Norway's election winners meet in bid to form majority government


FILE PHOTO: Norwegian Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Stoere answers questions from reporters outside his home, a day after parliamentary election in Oslo, Norway, September 14, 2021. NTB/Terje Bendiksby via REUTERS

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's centre-left election winners were meeting on Thursday for three-way talks to determine whether they can form a majority coalition government, with oil, taxes and EU relations among the sticking points.

Labour, the Socialists and the Centre Party won a majority of seats in Norway's parliament on Sept. 13, beating the ruling Conservative-led government, with a transfer of power likely to take place next month.

Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere, who is expected to become Norway's next prime minister, has during the last week held individual meetings with Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and the Socialist Left's Audun Lysbakken.

But Thursday's gathering at a resort an hour's drive north of Oslo is believed to be the first time the three will sit down together since the election.

"We have had a clear mandate in the election for a change... and we are going to discuss how to make this change happen," Stoere told reporters. "I am very optimistic about this."

Billed as exploratory talks, the initial phase is set to determine whether detailed negotiations should be opened next week, or if Stoere has to settle for ruling in a minority.

Norway's status as an oil and gas producer, contributing to climate change, was at the heart of the election campaign, although a transition away from petroleum is likely to be gradual despite progress by pro-environment parties.

Its oil and gas industry pumps around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, accounting for over 40% of export revenues, although output is projected to fall from 2030 onwards.

The Socialist Party wants to halt all exploration for new resources, which would hasten the oil industry's decline, but Labour and Centre have rejected this position.

Labour is wary of potential job losses from petroleum's demise, and champions state-sponsored policies to encourage a transfer of engineering know-how from oil production to renewable energy.

Norway's incumbent government, led by Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, conceded the election on Sept. 13 and will step down as soon as Labour is ready to form a cabinet.

(Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Giles Elgood. Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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