Norway's opposition Labour party leads in opinion poll

(From left) President of Norwegian Labour party youth division (AUF) Mani Hussaini, Leader of the Labour Party Jonas Gahr Stoere and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a memorial ceremony in Oslo on July 22.
(From left) President of Norwegian Labour party youth division (AUF) Mani Hussaini, Leader of the Labour Party Jonas Gahr Stoere and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a memorial ceremony in Oslo on July 22.PHOTO: REUTERS

OSLO (REUTERS) - Norway's opposition Labour party and its allies are ahead of their Conservative rivals a year before a parliamentary election, an opinion poll showed on Friday.

Labour has 36.1 per cent support among voters surveyed in a poll published in daily Aftenposten, while the ruling Conservatives were on 24.7 per cent. Together with its allies, Labour could have enough support to form a government.

The Nordic country of five million is led by a coalition of the centre-right Conservative party, led by Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and the populist Progress Party, led by Finance Minister Siv Jensen.

According to the survey, 45 per cent of voters would prefer Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere to be the next prime minister, against 37 per cent who would prefer Solberg.

Labour is benefiting partly from immigration slipping down the political agenda as the number of arrivals has fallen. "The fear of asylum seekers has gone quite a bit and the Progress Party tends to benefit from that fear," Thore Gaard Olaussen, managing director of Respons Analyse, which conducted the poll, told Reuters. The Progress Party's support fell to 13.7 per cent, the poll showed.

In 2015, 31,145 people sought asylum in Norway, according to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, but the number of arrivals has declined since then as neighbouring countries closed borders and Norway introduced more restrictive policies.

Some 1,678 people applied for asylum in the first half of 2016, the lowest level recorded since 1997.

The poll was based on 1,001 phone interviews conducted on Aug. 15-17. The next election is in September 2017.