Friday, January 28

Farmer Knut Løvlien has had enough. Now he can resign from the Center Party in protest.

– I understand very well that the party is in decline, says the Rena farmer. Trygve Slagsvold Vedum loses voters in a number of groups. Some stand out in particular.

Knut Løvlien has 200 sheep for winter feeding. He believes the Center Party has so far delivered far below expectations.

The sheep farmer is not alone in losing patience with the ruling party. The Center Party has gone from strong tailwind to stiff gale in the polls.

A year ago, they saw the 20s. In Norstat’s latest poll for Aftenposten, Sp was below 10 percent.

We have mapped which voters are now gone. The figures show a difference in the decline between urban and rural areas and men and women.

On the farm in Rena, Løvlien is used to getting up before the sun. This winter, however, the 200 sheep on winter feeding have received breakfast even earlier than normal.

The feeding machine must run when the power is cheapest. Despite a number of measures to reduce consumption, the electricity bills for the last two months ended at NOK 15,000 more than in the same months the year before.

– Now it is the Center Party and the Labor Party that are in power. They are the ones who have the opportunity to do something about the situation. They have known for some time that prices would be like that. I am incredibly disappointed that they have not done more, he says to Aftenposten.

To Østlendingen Løvlien said before Christmas that he is considering resigning from the party in a power protest. It still applies.

In particular, he expects more from the Center Party in the fight against electricity prices.

– Vedum fronted the case long before the election. He posted videos on Facebook where he talked about how important cheap power is to the industry. They should have been much harder on this in the Hurdal platform.

Over half are gone

In the election in September, the Center Party received 13.5 percent of the vote. It was the second best parliamentary election in history for the party. At the same time, it was far below their best level in the polls last year.

The Center Party’s support for Norstat’s polls for Aftenposten and NRK shows a sharp fall since March last year.

Aftenposten has mapped which voters are now gone. To find out, we have combined the last three measurements (from November to January). In total, they have around 3,000 respondents.

The figures are compared with the same period a year ago, when there were the same number of respondents.

The figures are not weighted, but the number of respondents is so high that it gives a good picture of the situation.

1. City voters disappear quickly

The Center Party usually has more voters the smaller a place is. They have it now, and they had it a year ago.

Aftenposten’s figures show that support has fallen both in the village and in the cities. In percentage points, it has fallen the most in the village, but that is because four out of ten voters there said they would vote for Vedum a year ago.

They have lost the largest proportion of voters in Oslo and the other cities with over 50,000 inhabitants.

An important part of the party’s growth in the first half of last year was great progress in the large and medium-sized cities. That effect now seems to have diminished sharply.

Also among voters in the less central areas of the country, the popularity is lower, but they are still more loyal than the urban ones who were charmed last winter.

2. Women are most skeptical

The Center Party has long had a predominance of male voters. It still has.

In fact, we see that the gender imbalance has intensified in the last year. In men, about one in three SP voters are gone, while almost half of women have said thank you.

3. Most down among 50+

The Center Party is among the parties with the highest proportion of old voters. The older you are, the more likely you are to vote for the Center Party.

This is still the case, but it is in the group “those over 50” that the Center Party has lost the most voters.

4. Half away in Western Norway

According to the figures in Aftenposten’s material, half of the voters are gone in both Western and Eastern Norway compared with the polls a year ago.

The smallest proportion has disappeared farthest south and farthest north in the country.

5. FRP brings back voters

One of the most important reasons why the red-green side won the election so clearly was that the Center Party gained tens of thousands of voters from both the Conservatives and the Green Party.

Norstat’s latest survey shows that the voter flow has gone the opposite way in the last month.

The Center Party is struggling with the lowest loyalty of all the parties in the Storting in the poll. As many as 10 percent of SP voters from the 2021 election say that they would now vote for the Progress Party.

Believes the districts are forgotten

At Rena, farmer Løvlien is implementing the measures he can to reduce the cost of electricity.

He is by no means surprised that the Center Party is struggling hard in the polls.

– No not at all. There are many who had high expectations of both them and the Labor Party. Sp had great progress in the polls, and the Labor Party talked much more about district policy. But we do not feel that the districts have been seen and heard yet. I understand very well that they are in decline, says Løvlien.

Knut Løvlien expects the Center Party to quickly come up with better measures against the high electricity prices.

Geir Pollestad is the Center Party’s parliamentary deputy leader in the Storting.

He says Løvlien is a good example of the impatience the party is now experiencing from voters.

With regard to electricity, Pollestad believes that no preparations had been made for measures from the previous government.

– We got it in place in December. I can understand that it seems late, but it will give real payments in January, he says.

Do many with power dislike Sp

Pollestad admits that it has been a tough start to life in government.

In addition to the power crisis, he points to the rise of coronary heart disease. The latter he thinks is more difficult to deal with now when many are very tired of restrictions.

He does not lose the night’s sleep of Aftenposten’s comparison with measurements a year ago.

– Those figures are from nine months before the election. The numbers include many who did not vote for us. We must relate to the election result. It was our second best in history. We were very happy with that, says Pollestad.

He thinks the Center Party gets a lot of opposition in the public and thinks it affects the support.

– There are very many with power and influence in Norway who think it is awkward that the Center Party is in government. We get a lot of support from commentators and tops in various industries, he says.

Pollestad believes it takes time to turn around what he calls “eight years of centralization”.

– There will be noise along the way. We arouse some strong opposing forces in the established society. They feel threatened, he says.

Pollestad is also not afraid that the Center Party went too high and used too strong rhetoric in the election campaign, and that it is now being used against them.

– The goal is for us to meet the expectations we created. We are now in government for a four-year term. That is the horizon we have. It would go wrong if we panicked after we had to deal with two crises in the beginning.

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