A day after Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug resigned in order to save Norway’s fragile coalition from collapse, an instant poll from Kantar TNS showed a surge in support for her party, the populist FRP (Progress Party). Listhaug’s highly controversial social media post ten days earlier, implying that the opposition Labour Party (AP) was soft on terrorism, had destabilised the government to the point where junior coalition partner the KRF (Christian People’s Party) was no longer willing to continue working with her.
The immediate consequence in yesterday’s snap poll is a doubling of support for Progress, from 10.9 per cent two weeks ago to 20.6 per cent now. This is the populists’ best poll with any agency since last September’s General Election, when Progress won 15.2 per cent of the vote. Kantar TNS, working for TN2, cautions that the poll has a smaller sample size than usual, and therefore a higher margin of error at +/-3.7 per cent, as well as a shorter fieldwork period. All the same this is a very dramatic movement in voting intentions.
The Conservatives of Hoyre, who lead the government, suffer the biggest loss, down some three points, while the Centre (SP), the Greens (MDG) and the hard left Red (Rodt) are also in retreat. Labour, arguably the ‘victims’ in this affair, fail to see any sympathetic gain among the public, polling practically the same as two weeks ago, and identically to Kantar’s 8 February survey.
Despite the surge in support for the FRP, an overwhelming majority of those polled yesterday believe that Listhaug was right to resign her post as Justice Minister – some 84.2 per cent.
Support for the FRP had already been on the rise prior to Listhaug quitting. A Sentio poll released on 19 March and a Respons Analyse poll from 16 March (both with fieldwork carried out while the controversy over her comments raged) showed the FRP up to 15.8 and 15.9 per cent respectively. These figures were above the monthly averages for its post-election polling of 13-14 per cent. It remains to be seen whether Kantar’s shock results are a one-off short-term reaction to the Listhaug drama, or the start of a trend.
KANTAR TNS 20 March
Storting voting intentions, per cent
(change on 7 March poll in brackets)
Conservatives (Hoyre) 26.0 (-3.3)
Labour Party (AP) 23.6 (+0.2)
Progress Party (FRP) 20.6 (+9.7)
Centre Party (SP) 10.3 (-1.8)
Socialist Left Party (SV) 5.6 (-1.0)
Liberals (Venstre) 5.0 (+0.1)
Christian People’s Party (KRF) 4.4 (-0.1)
Greens (MDG) 2.1 (-1.5)
Red Party (Rodt) 1.7 (-2.1)
Others 0.9 (-0.1)
Fieldwork: 20.03.2018. Published: 20.03.2018. Participants: 607. Media partner: TV2. News report from TV2 here.
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