Most Norwegians hope Obama wins

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Fully eight out of 10 members of the Norwegian Parliament hope US President Barack Obama wins re-election next week, according to a survey conducted by Oslo newspaper Dagsavisen. That seems to reflect the mood of most Norwegians as well, in a country where the US Democratic Party would be considered conservative by Norwegians’ social democratic standards.

An overwhelming majority of members of the Norwegian Parliament hope US President Barack Obama will win re-election next week. PHOTO: Stortinget

Only 17 of the 108 Members of Parliament responding to Dagsavisen’s survey wanted Republican candidate Mitt Romney to win the US election on Tuesday. Two of the 17 were members of Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre) and the rest were members of Norway’s most conservative party, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp).

Even those two parties would be considered liberal in the US, because both largely embrace Norway’s social welfare system. Both are on the right side of Norwegian politics, however, hence the support for Romney.

The support for Obama was otherwise overwhelming, also among other relatively conservative parties such as the Christian Democrats in addition to the Conservatives. “Even though I like Romney better after he moved more towards the center, I’m skeptical to the Republicans’ sharp turn to the right,” aid MP Torbjørn Roe Isaksen of the Conservatives. His colleague André Oktay Dahl said he could never support the Republicans’ refusal to, in his opinion, grant homosexuals “the right to live a fully dignified life.”

Obama’s support broad-based
Support for Obama from other parties on the left and center of Norwegian politics was more predictable, with MP Marianne Aasen of the Labour Party claiming that Obama “has the best overall political program,” especially in regards to foreign policy and, not least, health care. She thinks the world will be “a safer place” with Obama in the White House and, like many other Europeans, she is skeptical about Romney’s grasp of foreign policy.

The Progress Party itself is divided, with its most conservative members like Christian Tybring-Gjedde favouring Romney, but not without doubts. “As a supporter of free trade, competition, low taxes, Israel and a strong military in the USA, the choice should ideologically be simple,” Tybring-Gjedde told Dagsavisen. “I must say I’m uncertain this year, though, but go weakly in the direction of Romney.”

Progress Party fellow Tord Lien also had doubts, but said he hopes that if Romney is elected, he’ll govern as he did while governor of the generally liberal state of Massachusetts, “as a liberal and center-oriented Republican.” Lien seemed reassured that voters in Massachusetts elected Romney twice.

MPs Kjetil Solvik-Olsen and Anders Anundsen, however, two of the most high-profile members of the Progress Party, favour Obama as do many other Norwegians. “The Democrats lie closer to the main thread of Norwegian politics,” historian Hallvard Notaker at the University of Oslo told Dagsavisen. Commentator Jan Arild Snoen simply thinks Republicans have a bad reputation in Norway.

“The support for Republican candidates in Norway has been low through many years of elections,” Snoen said. “It’s not strange that this also is reflected among their representatives in parliament.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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