PROFILE-Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

Position: Prime Minister of Norway

Incumbent: Jens Stoltenberg, 51

Current term: 2009-2013, unless the government falls before
that.

Key facts:

— Leads three-party center-left coalition dominated by his
own Labor Party. The other members are the Socialist Left Party
and the agrarian-based Center Party.

— After serving as minister of finance and minister of
trade and energy in Labor governments of the 1990s, Stoltenberg
became prime minister in March 2000 but his first government
lasted only until the next scheduled election, in September
2001.

— In his first stint in power the trained economist,
widely seen as a pragmatic centrist, oversaw the partial
privatization of Statoil, Norway’s oil champion, and Telenor,
the former telecom monopoly.

— He also took a reform-oriented approach to social
welfare programs that proved unpopular with voters. They handed
Labor its worst election defeat in decades in 2001.

— To retake government power in 2005, Stoltenberg ignored
his party’s traditional disdain for coalition-building and
formed an alliance with the Socialist Left and Center parties.
This “Red-Green Coalition” won a slight majority and pursued
high-profile social policies like expanding access to publicly
funded kindergartens but stayed away from big economic
reforms.

— When the global financial crisis hit in 2008-2009,
Stoltenberg tapped his country’s vast oil fund to calm markets,
stave off unemployment and stimulate the economy. Seen as
stable stewards during the crisis, Stoltenberg and his
coalition were returned to power by a slim majority in the
September 2009 election.

— Stoltenberg has generally supported the oil and gas
industry’s drive to extend offshore drilling northward into the
Norwegian and Barents seas. While his coalition partners have
opposed drilling off the environmentally sensitive Lofoten
island chain, he has expressed a wait-and-see attitude.

— Stoltenberg’s father, Thorvald, is a former Norwegian
defense minister. The younger Stoltenberg grew up politically
active in the Norwegian capital. In his 20s, he led the Labor
Party’s youth wing and entered the Parliament in 1993 at 34.
(Reporting by Walter Gibbs; Editing by Jerry Norton)

PROFILE-Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg