Norway PM to reshuffle cabinet on Friday: media

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 21, 2012 2:03 AM

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will reshuffle his cabinet on Friday, hoping to revive the fortunes of his Labour Party a year before parliamentary elections, local media said on Friday.

Trailing the conservative opposition in opinion polls, Stoltenberg will move his foreign, defense, health and culture ministers and replace the labour minister in what is expected to be the last big major reshuffle before the autumn 2013 ballot, public broadcaster NRK and daily VG said.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, seen as a safe pair of hands, will take over the health ministry, a key position for a government hoping to strengthen the country's extensive social safety net, both NRK and VG said.

Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide will take over as foreign minister.

Opinion polls give Labour around 30 percent of the vote, behind the Conservative Party's 34 percent.

They also show Stoltenberg's two coalition allies would struggle to break the 4 percent threshold needed for parliamentary representation while the centre-right Progress Party, a potential ally of the Conservatives, polls around 14 percent.

That suggests Stoltenberg is heading for defeat after two terms despite overseeing one of Europe's best performing economies. He is also trailing opposition leader Erna Solberg for the first time in voter preferences for prime minister.

Stoltenberg's office could not immediately comment on the reshuffle reports.

Government changes generally happen on Fridays in Norway as cabinet has a regular meeting with the king on this day and changes have to be announced to the monarch first.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by John Stonestreet)