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Norway's Conservatives could overtake Labour as most popular party, polls show

FILE PHOTO: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg attends the press conference after the meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Support for Norway’s opposition Labour Party fell further on Tuesday, putting the ruling Conservatives on track to become the country’s most popular party for the first time in 93 years, an opinion poll for public broadcaster NRK showed.

For much of the year, Labour and its center-left allies were ahead in polls and favored to replace Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s minority coalition in elections on Sept. 11. But support for the opposition has slipped as the economy recovered.

The NRK survey gave Solberg’s government - comprising the Conservative party and its coalition partner Progress - and two centrist parties that regularly back it, a lead of 85 seats, just enough for a victory in the 169-seat parliament.

(For a graphic on Norway parliamentary elections click

Support for the Conservative Party rose by 3.3 points from a week ago to 25.7 percent. Labour’s support fell by 4.6 points to 24.4 percent.

A separate poll for independent broadcaster TV2 showed Labour could narrowly maintain its position as the favored party, but Solberg and the center-right parties were still ahead with a projected 87-to-82 seats.

“The only poll that counts is the one that takes place on Sept. 11 ... we will become much bigger in the election than we are now,” Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere told NRK.

With less than two weeks to go, the race remains too close to call, though, and even small changes in support for some of the nine parties on the left and right could be decisive.

The Conservative Party last got the most votes in 1924. Since 1927, Labour has been the leading party in every Norwegian election.

Reporting by Camilla Knudsen and Terje Solsvik, editing by Larry King