Norway’s prime minister shuffles Cabinet after last month’s local election loss

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has shuffled his Cabinet after his center-left party was defeated in local elections last month by the center-right opposition party for the first time since 1924

ByThe Associated Press

October 16, 2023, 7:32 AM

Newly appointed Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, left, and Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store pose out of the Palace after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in connection with changes in the government, in Oslo, Norway, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. (Emilie Holtet/NTB Scanpix via AP)

The Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre shuffled his Cabinet on Monday after his center-left party was defeated in local elections last month by the center-right opposition party for the first time since 1924.

Espen Barth Eide, who was climate and environment minister in the outgoing two-party coalition, replaced Anniken Huitfeldt as foreign minister. Eide had previously served as foreign minister in 2012-2013.

Three ministers left the Cabinet and two were moved to new posts. The Cabinet was expanded to 20 members as a new position for digitalization was created.

“We are making this change because there are some policy areas that we must pay even greater attention to in the future,” Gahr Støre said.

He said he “wanted to make changes in our team that can provide increased power going forward.”

However, the reason for Huitfeldt’s departure was “the matter of the purchase and sale of shares,” Gahr Støre said.

In September, it was revealed that the husbands of Huitfeldt and former conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg had been trading in stocks for years behind their backs. Both had to explain why they were making decisions in office that could potentially enrich their spouses.

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After being scolded by the government’s legal department for failing to get to grips with her partner’s “financial activities,” Huitfeldt acknowledged in a statement that she “should have asked my husband what shares he owned.”

In Sept. 11 elections for local councils in Norway’s 356 municipalities and 11 counties, Gahr Støre’s social democratic Labor party, which for decades was Norway’s largest party in local elections, came in second with nearly 22% of the ballots, down 3.1 percentage points from the last elections in 2019. The conservative Hoeyre party received nearly 26% of the votes, up nearly 6 percentage points from 2019. Solberg, who has led Hoeyre since May 2004, was ousted by the Labor party in 2021 national elections.

“This is not good enough,” Gahr Støre said after the local elections.

Members of the new Cabinet lined up for a photo outside the royal palace in Oslo after being formally appointed by King Harald, Norway’s figurehead monarch.

In October 2021, Gahr Støre formed a governing coalition with the Euroskeptic Center Party, Norway’s third largest.

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