(CNN)Norway's main opposition Labour Party is beginning coalition talks to form a government Tuesday after the ruling Conservatives lost their command in parliamentary elections and the anti-oil Greens failed to win enough seats to become the potential kingmaker.
Norway's center-left Labour begins coalition talks as anti-oil Greens sidelined
Labour is likely to form an alliance with the country's Center Party and the Socialist Left Party, following an election campaign period heavily focused on the climate crisis and the future of the country's lucrative oil industry. Though it has not ruled out talks with the Greens, the only party calling for a complete end to fossil fuel exploration.
Norway is Europe's second-biggest oil-producing nation, after Russia, and the world's third-biggest natural gas exporter. Even with political will, phasing out fossil fuels was unlikely to be quick.
But the future of fossil fuels in the country became a hot-button issue in the election period, as oil contributes significantly to the nation's wealth but sits at odds with Norway's other credentials as a global climate leader.
The results unseat Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who after eight years of rule became Norway's longest-serving Conservative leader. Solberg has refused to put an end date on fossil fuel production, planning for its continuation beyond 2050.
But her ouster wasn't the boon for climate some had projected. Polling ahead of the election and early results had suggested the Greens would win enough seats to force Labour to accept it in its coalition.
Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre, a former foreign minister, is seen generally as a pro-oil figure. His party is supporting the continued production of oil, although it has indicated new exploration should be limited.
But after more results came in overnight, the Greens' hopes for gains had evaporated, and by Tuesday morning, the party appeared to have lost its position as an obvious member of the coalition.
In remarks to party supporters, Støre said that he would invite leaders of "all parties who want a change" to come forward for talks.
"It is natural to start with the Center Party and SV [Socialists], our preferred partners," he said, adding he would also "listen" to the Greens and Reds, another smaller socialist party.
"In this election, the Labour Party had a goal that was more important than anything other than a new government, a change in Norway after eight years of right-wing politics and increased differences, a government based on community and justice so that it is the turn of ordinary people."
Støre appeared to target the other key election issue of inequality over climate, saying that his government would pursue a policy for a "fairer Norway with less differences."
He also said that his government would pursue "a fair climate policy that cuts emissions and creates jobs," and that "take the sides of ordinary people," including "young people who demand that we do everything in our power to save the Earth from the climate crisis."
According to a full preliminary count of the vote, Labour secured some 26% of the ballots, which translates to 48 seats in the 169-seat parliament. The eurosceptic Progess Party came in third, but is an unlikely Labour ally.