Salmon tax parties suffer heavy defeats in Norway’s local elections

Norway’s Labour and Centre parties, the coalition government architects of the controversial salmon tax, both suffered heavy defeats in the country’s regional elections yesterday.

With results from 357 councils declared, Labour’s share of the vote plunged to 21.9% while the Conservatives became the largest party on 25.9%.

The Conservative leader Erna Solberg has pledged to get rid of or drastically reduce the salmon tax (also known as the “ground rent tax”) if her party is able to form a national government in two years’ time.

It is this promise which is giving major salmon producers such as Mowi and SalMar hope that the tax will be scrapped.

The Conservatives would need the support of the more right wing Progressive Party, which is also against the tax, if they are to form the next national government.

Significantly, the Centre Party which is traditionally strong in salmon farming areas , saw its share of the vote plunge to 8% In the north of the country.

Norway’s Finance Minister Trygve Vedum, who drew up the salmon tax plan, is also a key figure in the Centre party.

The national broadcaster NRK reports that the Labour-Centre coalition has lost one in three voters in the fish farming areas. It adds that the Centre Party is “going violently backward” in these districts.

Many jobs have been lost since the tax was announced a year ago while new investment is at a standstill.

But the salmon tax is not the main issue troubling the majority of voters. Norwegians have seen sharp increases in the cost of living, most notably for food and energy, over the past 18 months and these are what is thought to have cost Labour seats in the large towns and cities where aquaculture is not so important.

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