Norway's opposition widens poll lead weeks before election

OSLO Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:01pm EDT

Norway's main opposition leader Erna Solberg of conservative party Hoyre answers questions during a news conference in Oslo, April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix

Norway's main opposition leader Erna Solberg of conservative party Hoyre answers questions during a news conference in Oslo, April 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix

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OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's center-right opposition pulled further ahead of the Labor-led government with just weeks to go before elections on September 9, a poll showed on Friday, putting the Conservatives and their allies on course for a landslide victory.

Support for Erna Solberg's Conservative Party rose to 31.1 percent from 29.7 percent two weeks ago, while combined support for the four opposition parties reached 59 percent, state broadcaster NRK said.

The center-right intends to reshape Norway's $760 billion oil fund, the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, and may set new rules for a huge energy sector that supplies much of Europe's oil and gas.

Although support for Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's Labor party rose to 28.9 percent from 26.3 percent, its two coalition allies are polling below the four percent threshold needed to enter parliament, raising a risk they may not get in.

The poll indicates that the opposition would gain 111 seats in the 169 seat parliament, giving Solberg, the likely next prime minister, considerable leeway in picking her coalition partners.

Stoltenberg has governed over one of Europe's rare economic success stories, due to the country's oil and gas wealth, but voters are increasingly disillusioned with his handling of social issues such as health care.

The poll of 1,000 voters, conducted on August 14-15 by polling agency Norstat on behalf of NRK, had a margin of error between 0.7 and 3.4 percent.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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