Norway's ruling Labor party on comeback trail as election nears, poll shows

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 22, 2013 2:16 AM
Norway's ruling Labor party on comeback trail as election nears, poll shows

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's ruling Labor party is making up ground on the center-right opposition, raising the prospect of a close parliamentary election on September 9, polls showed on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's Labor is now the most popular party, taking away votes from the Conservatives, its main challenger, the poll by television channel TV2 showed.

A strong campaigner and debater, Stoltenberg scored an unexpected comeback victory in the previous national election four years ago.

This time around his coalition, which also includes the Center Party and the Socialist Left, still trails the grouping of four center-right parties that could form the next government, the poll showed.

The winner in the vote will get to preside over Western Europe's biggest petroleum sector, which supplies a fifth of the European Union's gas, and may set new rules for the $750 billion oil fund, the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund.

Support for Labor stands at 31.8 percent, up from 30.2 percent just a few days ago, while Erna Solberg's Conservatives are down to 26.8 percent from 29.4 percent, the poll showed. Another poll by tabloid VG indicated a similar trend and put the two parties neck and neck at just over 28 percent.

Stoltenberg's coalition is now on course for 74 seats in parliament, well short of the 85 needed for a majority, while the center-right block could pick up 93, the TV poll showed.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by John Stonestreet)