Norway's opposition widens poll lead ahead of September 9 vote

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 07, 2013 2:38 AM
Norway's opposition widens poll lead ahead of September 9 vote

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's center-right opposition extended its already big lead over the Labor-led government, indicating an almost certain defeat for Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in a September 9 election after two straight terms in office, a poll showed.

The four opposition parties, led by the Conservatives, are on course to win 105 of parliament's 169 seats, while Labor is seen relegated to the number two position and its coalition partners could even struggle to reach the 4 percent parliamentary threshold, daily VG said on Wednesday.

The Conservatives, led by Erna Solberg, promise to ease regulation, sell down stakes in big state firms like Statoil and Telenor, reduce taxes and make government more business-friendly.

Although Stoltenberg has presided over economic success thanks to the Norway's oil wealth, voters are getting increasingly unhappy over his handling of social issues such as health and education.

The country has little tradition of keeping the same leader in power for too long and Stoltenberg, in office since 2005, is already one of Norway's longest serving leaders.

The new poll, based on an unusually large survey of over 3,000 voters, showed the Conservatives stretching their lead to 31.9 percent from 31.2 percent a month ago while support for Labor fell to 27.5 percent from 29.7 percent.

The populist Progress Party, seen as Solberg's potential governing ally, increased its lead to 14.2 percent from 13.6 percent.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)