March 19, 2018 / 4:16 PM / 6 months ago

Factbox: Norway confidence vote may trigger change of government

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s parliament votes on Tuesday on a motion of no confidence in the justice minister, and the center-right government is expected to resign if it is passed.

Sylvi Listhaug, of the right-wing Progress Party, has caused a political storm by accusing the opposition Labour Party - the target of a 2011 massacre - of putting terrorists’ rights before national security.

The outcome of the vote will depend on the small Christian Democratic Party (CDP), traditionally a supporter of the government, which on Monday held meetings to decide its position.

Snap elections are not allowed, and Norway’s next is not due until 2021. Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg might be able to form a new cabinet, but the task could fall to Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere if the CDP switches sides.

Below is a summary of key policy issues:

SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND: REFORM DELAY?

With more than $1 trillion saved from Norway’s oil and gas industry, parliament faces key questions over how to organize the fund and whether to allow investments beyond the foreign stocks, bonds and real estate it currently holds.

The government is due to present a white paper on the fund in April but a change of power would almost certainly lead to a postponement.

Parliament must also decide on whether to back the fund’s wish to drop the shares of oil and gas companies from its benchmark index, though this issue is unlikely to come to a vote until 2019 or later.

PRIVATIZATION OR NOT?

The Conservatives are open to reducing the state’s stakes in several companies, notably in telecoms firm Telenor, where it has permission from parliament to cut its holding to 34 percent from 54 percent.

Labour said ahead of last year’s election it would ask parliament to reverse the Telenor sales permit.

A plan to change the name of oil firm Statoil could be at stake. The current oil minister backs the board’s plan to rename the company Equinor, but Labour has voiced scepticism.

TAXES: UP OR DOWN?

The Conservatives seek cuts in taxes for corporations, on personal incomes and in wealth and property taxes. They want tariff cuts to promote free trade.

Labour vowed in last year’s general election to raise taxes for above-average earners and the wealthy by up to $2 billion to improve public services and reduce reliance on the sovereign wealth fund.

It blamed its defeat partly on the tax strategy, and said it might be more reluctant to hike income taxes in the future. The party has backed a government plan to cut corporate taxes.

OIL AND GAS: TO DRILL OR NOT?

In return for support from the centrist Christian Democrats and the Liberals, Solberg agreed last year to extend a moratorium on oil and gas exploration around the Arctic Lofoten archipelago for another four years.

If the government collapses, the agreement will be void, and the fate of drilling in the area, thought to hold vast resources, will ultimately be decided by parliament.

If the Conservatives were to rule alone, Solberg could seek the support of Progress and Labour to move towards exploration.

This would further sour relations with the two centrist parties, so Solberg may instead use the question of drilling as leverage to win continued support.

Labour has sought a compromise that could see some of the area opened for drilling, but faces a tricky dilemma because opposition within the party to Lofoten exploration is growing.

Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Andrew Roche

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