Norwegian local elections, 2007: Wikis

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Norway

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Country-wide local elections for seats in municipality and county councils were held throughout Norway on September 10, 2007, with some areas polling on September 9 as well. For most places this meant that two elections, the municipal elections and the county elections ran concurrently. In addition, several municipalities held direct mayoral elections.

For the country at large, the election produced a major setback for the Socialist Left Party, while most other parties, including the two other parties of the governing Red-Green Coalition, the Norwegian Labour Party and the Centre Party, made some advances or held their position from 2003.

Contents

Identification requirement

A new rule required voters to produce an identity document in order to vote. This change was criticized by the Red Electoral Alliance who argued that poor people without such documents would be unable to afford such a document, and thus wind up disenfranchised. The minister in charge of the election, Åslaug Haga, prompted the local election authorities to exercise discretion, and aid people who need identification if necessary. It was also not necessary to have identification if the ballot recipient knew the voter and could vouch for him or her.[1]

Voter turnout concerns

Ahead of the election, it was feared that voter turnout would be lower than the 59% of the 2003 local elections, which was already low by Norwegian standards. Even so, a few days before the early voting deadline had past, about 291,200 ballots had been cast prior to the election, up from the 249,022 ballots cast in 2003 [2].

The final result showed a turnout of 61.7% in the municipal election[3], and 57.5% in the county election[4].

Results and response

Municipal elections

2,209,706 valid votes were cast for the municipal elections, a turnout of 61,7 %. These are the aggregate results:[5][6][7]

e • d  Summary of the 10 September 2007 municipal election results
Parties Votes
# % ± %
  Norwegian Labour Party (Det norske Arbeiderparti) 655,093 29.6 +2.2
  Conservative Party (Høyre) 425,694 19.3 +1.1
  Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) 387,476 17.5 +1.1
  Centre Party (Senterpartiet) 175,673 8.0 0.0
  Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti) 141,019 6.4 0.0
  Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) 137,041 6.2 −6.2
  Liberal Party (Venstre) 129,656 5.9 +2.0
  Red Electoral Alliance (Rød Valgallianse) 41,340 1.9 +0.3
  Pensioners' Party (Pensjonistpartiet) 20,501 0.9 -0.4
  Coastal Party (Kystpartiet) 8,982 0.4 +0.2
  Environment Party The Greens (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) 6,963 0.3 +0.1
  Sunnmøre List (Sunnmørslisten) 5,595 0.3 0.0
  Sami People Party (Sámeálbmot bellodat, Samefolkets Parti) 1,140 0.1 +0.1
  Social Democratic Party (Det sosialdemokratiske parti) 537 0.02
  Communist Party of Norway (Norges Kommunistiske Parti) 526 0.02 -0.03
  Society Party (Samfunnspartiet) 393 0.02
  Joint, local and other lists 72,614 4.0
Total 2,209,706


In the large cities, Oslo and Bergen retained a majority for the non-socialist parties. The Labour Party enjoyed significant gains in Trondheim and Tromsø. A Conservative-Labour coalition will share the power in Stavanger (continue) and Kristiansand (new).[8]

County elections

2,076,609 valid votes were cast for the county elections, a turnout of 57,5 %. These are the aggregate results:[9]

e • d  Summary of the 10 September 2007 county election results
Parties Votes Seats
# % ± % # ±
  Norwegian Labour Party (Det norske Arbeiderparti) 639,781 30.8 +3.8 236 +28
  Conservative Party (Høyre) 389,437 18.8 +0.9 120 +7
  Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) 384,982 18.5 +0.6 141 +14
  Centre Party (Senterpartiet) 162,660 7.8 -0.2 73 -7
  Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti) 139,584 6.7 −0.2 54 −3
  Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) 135,461 6.5 −6.5 46 −44
  Liberal Party (Venstre) 116,316 5.6 +1.9 37 +10
  Red Electoral Alliance (Rød Valgallianse) 42,920 2.1 +0.5 8 +2
  Pensioners' Party (Pensjonistpartiet) 22,649 1.1 -0.6 5 -3
  Environment Party The Greens (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) 12,379 0.6 +0.3 0 0
  Coastal Party (Kystpartiet) 9,104 0.4 −0.1 3 −1
  The Democrats (Demokratene) 6,352 0.3 0.0 1 0
  Sunnmøre List (Sunnmørslisten) 5,595 0.3 0.0 3 0
  Christian Unity Party (Kristent Samlingsparti) 2,811 0.1 0.0 0 0
  Vestfold List (Vestfoldlisten) 1,593 0.08 0.0 0 -2
  Oslo City Action (Oslo Byaksjon) 1,466 0.07 - 0 -
  Communist Party of Norway (Norges Kommunistiske Parti) 1,210 0.06 -0.01 0 0
  Sami People Party (Sámeálbmot bellodat, Samefolkets Parti) 1,140 0.05 -0.02 1 -1
  Sami People Party list 2 (Samefolkets parti liste 2) 393 0.02 - 0 -
  Immigrant Party (Innvandrerpartiet) 329 0.02 - 0 -
  Democratic Alternative Oslo (Demokratisk Alternativ for Oslo) 191 0.01 - 0 -
  Society Party (Samfunnspartiet) 129 0.01 0.0 0 0
  Liberal People's Party (Det Liberale Folkeparti) 127 0.01 0.0 0 0
Total 2,076,609 728
Election results by county

Response

For the country at large, the Socialist Left Party's (SV) popularity plummeted, and the result was described as a "catastrophe". Most other main line parties could log slight gains or a result comparable with the previous election.

Part of the explanation for SV's poor performance has been laid on their performance in the cabinet. In particular Helen Bjørnøy, the minister of environmental affairs, and Øystein Djupedal, the minister of education and research have faced criticism. Bjørnøy has been well-respected, but has suffered due to having to make compromises on environmental issues, in particular to the Centre Party which favors rural development, often over conservation. Djupedal has had to contend with accusations of arrogance, and several teachers, who SV have traditionally fared well amongst, have complained about the lack of improvement in the country's education system. Also, SV's party leader and Norway's minister of finance, Kristin Halvorsen has been behind some unpopular economic measures.[10] Olav Gunnar Ballo, an SV member of parliament has called for the resignation of both Bjørnøy and Djupedal,[11] but on the day after the election, Halvorsen announced that none of the SV cabinet members would be fired.[12]

Allegations of electoral fraud in Drammen

In the municipal election in Drammen, it was revealed that a number of drug addicts had been offered 50 NOK (approximately 8 USD) if they would vote for the Labour Party, and with a personal vote for the candidate Yousuf Gilani. There were also allegations that Gilani had escorted voters into the election booths.[13] Another allegation was that a person who declined a bribe to vote in this manner was subjected to death threats.[14] The police investigating the allegations indicated that electoral fraud had indeed taken place, Gilani was asked by his party to take a leave from his political duties.[15] Gilani took a leave, and both he and the Labour Party have stated that this was a decision made on Gilani's initiative.[16]

Gilani himself reported the case to the police, denying any wrongdoing and stating his belief that the incident was part of a smear campaign.[17] Gilani also reported death threats and incidents of harassment directed against him during the run-up to the election.[18]

Two members of the Drammen council, from the Progress Party and the Socialist Left Party called for the result to be cancelled, and for new elections to be held in the city. Åslaug Haga, the minister whose cabinet was in charge of the elections, also hinted that a rerun might become necessary.[19]However, the mayor, Tore Opdal Hansen (Conservative), while expressing shock at the revelations, said that would probably not happen. It was pointed out that the scope of the fraud appeared small, and that even if all the 364 Labour ballots with a personal vote for Gilani were thrown out, that there would be no effect on the council's composition partywise.[20] A meeting in the Drammen election board September 24 approved the result, prompting demands for law amendments ro allow election reruns even if the party composition in the council remained unchanged. Mayor Hansen was among those expressing disappointment at the board not having the authority to reject the result, even if the personal composition of the council could be altered.[21] Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa, the new minister of Local Government and Regional Development, and in charge of the Norwegian elections at large, promised to consider amendments to the tighten the law if needed to prevent such incidents happening again.[22]

Direct mayoral elections

Several municipalities held direct mayoral elections rather than having the council appoint the mayor. The municipalities holding these elections were (municipalities who held such elections for the first time are marked "(new)"):[23]

Among the notable results in these elections was Knut Henning Thygesen's victory in Risør, making him the first mayor ever for the Red Electoral Alliance.[24]

References

  1. ^ -Fattige har ikke stemmerett ("The poor don't have the right to vote") NRK Østlandssendingen, September 3, 2007
  2. ^ Low voter turnout predicted Aftenposten, September 6, 2007
  3. ^ Election results: municipal
  4. ^ Election results: county
  5. ^ Official municipal election results from the Norwegian government website.
  6. ^ ssb.no - Municipal council election 2007. Valid votes, by party/electoral list and municipality
  7. ^ ssb.no - Municipal council election 2007. Valid votes by party/electoral list1 and municipality. Percentage
  8. ^ Nå starter kampen om byene Now the battle of the cities start, Aftenposten, September 11, 2007 (Norwegian)
  9. ^ Official county election results from the Norwegian government website
  10. ^ Government changes loom after election 'catastrophe' Aftenposten, September 11, 2007
  11. ^ Krever hoderulling etter SV-fiaskoen Demands head rolling after SV fiasco, Aftenposten, September 11, (Norwegian)
  12. ^ Sparker ikke SV-ministre ("Will not fire SV ministers") NRK, September 11, 2007 (Norwegian)
  13. ^ - Så Ap-politiker geleide velgere ("Saw Labour politician escort voters") Aftenposten, September 19, 2007 (Norwegian)
  14. ^ - Jeg ble drapstruet ("I received death threats") NRK Buskerud, September 21, 2007 (Norwegian)
  15. ^ Politiet tror på valgfusk – Gilani bedt om å ta perm (The police believes in electoral fraud, Gilani asked to take a leave) Aftenposten, September 22, 2007, (Norwegian)
  16. ^ Fullt kaos i Drammen Ap ("Full chaos in the Drammen Labour Party") Aftenposten, September 22, (Norwegian)
  17. ^ Gilani anmeldte stemmekjøp til politiet ("Gilani reported vote buying to the police") Aftenposten, September 19, 2007 (Norwegian)
  18. ^ - Jeg ble drapstruet ("I received death threats") Nettavisen, September 20, 2007 (Norwegian)
  19. ^ Haga: – Kan bli omvalg i Drammen (Haga says there may be rerun of the election in Drammen) Aftenposten, September 19, 2007 (Norwegian)
  20. ^ - Det blir ikke omvalg ("There will not be a rerun of the election") Aftenposten, September 24, 2007 (Norwegian)
  21. ^ Ikke omvalg i Drammen ("No rerun of the election in Drammen") Aftenposten, September 24, 2007 (Norwegian)
  22. ^ Kleppa vil se på saken ("Kleppa will look at the case") Aftenposten, September 24, 2007 (Norwegian)
  23. ^ Kommuner med direkte ordførervalg (Municipalities with direct mayoral elections)
  24. ^ RVs første ordfører (RV's first mayor) Nettavisen, September 11, 2007 (Norwegian)

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