Jens Stoltenberg, the ‘Voice of Utoya’, set to be ousted by right-wing vote

Coalition including party supported by Anders Breivik ahead as Norway goes to polls on Monday

Jens Stoltenberg was dubbed the “Voice of Utoya” for his stirring speeches that rallied Norwegians after Anders Breivik’s devastating attacks in 2011 – yet with his party lagging in the polls, Norway’s once heroic premier is set to lose a general election on Monday after eight years in office.

In a bitter twist, the 54-year-old Norwegian Labour Party Prime Minister and his Cabinet are on course to be replaced by a conservative coalition that is likely to include the populist right-wing and anti-immigration Progress Party, of which the far-right mass murderer Breivik was once a member.

In the wake of Breivik’s twin terror attacks, in which scores of teenaged members of Labour Party were massacred while attending a summer camp of Norway’s Utoya island, Mr Stoltenberg appeared on television and declared: “We will never renounce our values – our answer is more democracy, more openness and more humanity.”

His defiant yet peaceful response to Norway’s worst acts of violence since the Second World War won the hearts of Norwegians, if not the world In 2011, Labour Party’s popularity reached 40.5 per cent, giving it a huge lead over the opposition conservatives who were down to a mere 22 per cent.

But on the eve of Monday’s Norwegian general election, the tables appear to have been turned. Two years after the massacre, Norway’s conservatives are in the lead with about 34 per cent while Labour is polling around 29 per cent. In terms of leadership choice, conservative Hoyre party leader, Erna Solberg has eclipsed Mr Stoltenberg by 4 per cent.

The drop in support for Labour has occurred despite a decision by several survivors of the Utoya island massacre to run in the election as Labour party candidates.

In what appeared to be a desperate attempt to win support, Mr Stoltenberg last month resorted to posing as an Oslo taxi driver and having passengers’ reactions filmed as they discovered that they were being chauffeured by the Norwegian PM. “I think I would rather be a prime minister than a taxi driver,” he said afterwards.

Analysts have blamed Mr Stoltenberg’s fall from grace on a damning independent inquiry carried out last year, which concluded that Norwegian police could have prevented Breivik’s devastating Oslo bomb attack, which killed eight people, and that his subsequent slaughter of 69 young people, most of them teenagers, on Utoya island could have been halted earlier if they had acted properly.

“It was an absolutely devastating critique of the police and of Norway’s ability to deal with a crisis” said Frank Aarebrot, politics professor at the University of Bergen, “It really scarred Labour’s image as the part of good governance in Norway,”

Professor Aarebrot says the effect of the inquiry was to undermine confidence in Labour and lay the party open to criticism that it had failed in other areas, including the way it runs Norway’s health and social security systems.

Bernt Aardal, professor of politics at the University of Oslo has claimed that the inquiry’s withering critique effectively cancelled the effects of Mr Stoltenberg’s inspiring speeches.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a leading member of the Progress Party, told Norway’s The Local website recently: “There are many things about Norwegian society which people are very much disappointed with. Despite our enormous wealth, we have huge problems with our infrastructure,” he added.

Commentators say that the Progress Party toned down its ant-Islamic and anti-immigration rhetoric after 2011 and Hoyre has announced that it is prepared to form a coalition with the party after Monday’s election.

But some observers have pointed out that with the revenues of its giant oil and gas reserves estimated at €560 billion (£471 billion) and growing, voters in Norway can be almost certain that whichever party is in power it is unlikely to bring about a decline in living standards – which are among the highest in Europe.

As Professor Aardal put it; “For a government to be in charge for eight years is very rare in Norway.” In other words, Norway’s voters may think its time for a change.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash