Small parties intent on influence

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Norway’s small political parties continue to clamour for power and influence even though they may lack support from as many as 96 percent of Norwegian voters. Undaunted and with seats in parliament after Monday’s national election, they’ll be striving for everything from influence within the new Conservatives-led government to holding all the other parties accountable on environmental issues.

Rasmus Hansson will be The Green Party's first Member of Parliament, and he aims to exert influence and build the party up. PHOTO: Miljøpartiet De Grønne

Rasmus Hansson will be The Green Party’s first Member of Parliament, and he aims to exert influence and build the party up. PHOTO: Miljøpartiet De Grønne

For the first time, Norway has a purely “green” party in Parliament after Miljøpartiet De Grønne (MDG) secured enough votes to win one seat in the new Storting that convenes next month. It will be held by Rasmus Hansson of Oslo, a former head of the Norwegian chapter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and a biologist who’s been a lifelong environmentalist.

“We have been working for this breakthrough for a long time,” the party’s national spokeswoman and top candidate from Rogaland on the West Coast, Hanna Marcussen, told news bureau NTB . Now she’s even more driven towards sparking a “green revolution” and planting its ideas on the national agenda.

“We already have managed the most important thing, establishing ourselves as a force in Norwegian politics,” Marcussen said. Both she and Hansson claim the party won’t ally itself with either the left or right blocs in parliament, but rather move with the issues. The party has harshly criticized the other parties parliament for constantly letting Norway’s oil-fueled economy take priority over the environmental policies they believe are necessary to stem climate change. Now they can at least offer a swing vote on various issues, for a price.

Their entry into the parliament occurred as the Reds (Rødt) lost its bid for representation, and has been widely linked to voter losses at another once-mighty but now small party, SV (the Socialist Left). SV barely won representation in the parliament after eight years as a member of the defeated left-center/red-green government. SV hung on after much drama on Election Night, but with four less seats and the loss of government position. It will now likely become a more radical voice in opposition, since it no longer needs to compromise on issues with Labour and the Center Party. The latter lost a seat in parliament along with control of the agricultural, transport, oil and energy and local government ministries. It will now need to carry on its efforts to protect farmers and Norway’s outlying districts from its seats in opposition.

Venstre leader Trine Skei Grande new seems more keen on getting into government than on maintaining a bloc with the Christian Democrats. Even though her party's name, "Venstre" (The Liberals), means "left" in Norwegian, it's on the "right" and conservative side of Norwegian politics, adding to the confusion for some voters. PHOTO: Venstre

Venstre leader Trine Skei Grande now seems as keen as ever on getting into government position, after winning seven additional seats in parliament. PHOTO: Venstre

On the winning side, the dominant non-socialist Conservative and Progress parties will need to negotiate a platform not only with each other but with the small Liberal and/or Christian Democrats parties. The two won just over 5 percent of the vote each but since at least one of them is needed to form a right-center government, they theoretically can demand that some of their policies become part of the government platform. Negotiations will be tough, especially on thorny issues such as oil exploration off Lofoten and easing Norwegian protectionism, but the two bigger parties will have to cave in on some issues. Lofoten may be one of them, since there’s growing pressure across the board to make Norway less reliant on oil.

Knut Arild Hareide, head of the Christian Democrats, claimed several times during the course of Election Night that the election results provided more strength to the centrist parties. Since he has often said his party couldn’t rule with the Progress Party, though, he may opt out of a non-socialist government coalition and vote with the opposition parties like the Center Party. That could leave Norway with a right-center government led by the three women who head the Conservative, Progress and Liberal parties. Prime Minister-elect Erna Solberg of the Conservatives needs to have her plan in place by mid-October.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

  • Tom Just Olsen

    Agree. To my astonishment, I will be rich if Høyre follows up in it’s tax reduction promises. Like no fortune tax. I will save 24.000 NOK per year. With a higher bracket for ‘top tax’, I might get another 1000 NOK per month to spend. 3.000 possibly 4.000 NOK more per month!?
    But I am weary. What are the strings attached?
    One is obvious: If the Høyre government spends more of our oil fund money inflation will hit me hard. But still many voters must feel that they were bought. For what?
    Norway’s huge fortune is too tempting for rich & greedy people – from all over the world. Finansavisen say today that the new government will sell ‘our’ shares for 100 B NOK in Yara, Statoil, SAS, Telenor, Kongsberggruppen, Entra etc. By this we, the Norwegian people, will get poorer and lose control with vital national industries. While the 70.000 richest people (those with a liquid fortune of one million US$) in Norway will get a purchasing opportunity beyond anything.

    • frenk

      Its not a governments job to own/control ‘companies’ – private ownership is the key to a modern economy/country! State ownership/control = communism…..or, in Norway’s case…sky high prices for everything…

  • frenk

    I would have believed that ‘true socialists’ would be obliged to keep the cost of living as low as possible…and the quality of goods available as high as possible so that everyone has the chance of the ‘good life’…not so in Norway…where the average family is struggling with the cost of living!
    Good to know that in the UK we are better educated, healthier and have more opportunities to actually achieve something that is ‘real’ and that we are not having our hands held (tied) for us by the state!!
    Remember the comment I made previously about ‘assets’…sorry…but a state controlled firm to me cannot be regarded as a true asset becuase it has never competed in an open market place…where it’s people, technology, practices etc. would be shown for their ‘real’ worth…basically, its ‘fixed’ in this manner…..because Norwegians are ‘sh#t scared’ of competition….because then they might have to work/work harder…and this will expose those you can’t even reach the average etc. etc. etc……..
    I see people in the office I work in…most of them have never done a ‘hard days work’ in their lives…they just want to play on their bikes and take holidays….This GDP figure you quote really doesn’t mean anything…beacuse most Norwegians are not ‘rich’…the state is rich….Norwegians in general have very limited spending power!

    • Tom Just Olsen

      Well, I agree with you that our government could do more to keep cost down. The most important is to keep our NOK strong to keep imports prices down. And at the same time keep our interest rates low. Because paying morgages are one of the largest cost items in most Norwegian household budgets. But it does not seem to help. Companies ‘charge what they can get’. Market economy, you know. I also agree with you that quite many Norwegians are not rich. And many of them ‘see nothing to all the oil money’, as many say here. Which is unfair. Quite a few of these voted for Høyre this time.
      Some 70.000 Norwegians have a ‘liquid fortune’ (not properties included) of more than one million US$. That’s a lot for a nation of only 5 million people. Sweden also got some 70.000 ‘liquid dollar millonaires’ – but with almost twice the population. – So, relatively speaking, there is double as many really rich people here in Norway compared to Sweden. UK isn’t even close. The irony is that some of the richest Norwegians (John Fredriksen, the Odfjell sisters, etc) live in London. No wonder; UK is a tax haven for the super rich. So, UK’s debt must be paid by the ordinaries.
      Your claims that Brits have a better health care system etc. – is not supported by statistics. To put it mildly.
      According to statistics on ‘spending power’; Norwegians have among the highest spending powers in the world – deducted for education and health care. Without, you are better off in the USA.

      • frenk

        Mmmmm…good you’ve started to ‘see the light Tom’! Although you don’t have ‘market forces’ in Norway…take the supermarkets as an example….they are all selling more or less the same food for the same price – how can you differenciate? Yesterday we hear of more ‘monkey business’ from Tine…so the supermarket cannot control the prices of the goods it sells…..its controlled by a completely separate entity this is a truely bizarre way of doing business! Nowegian consumers are being screwed at every opportunity…!

        • Tom Just Olsen

          You are a bit naive if you think there is a ‘free market’ for food/agri products in EU. Also EU surrounds itself with high tariffs to protect themselves from outside competition. How much they subsidise their agri products – like milk, is impossible to say. Swedish farmers now complain and wants ‘more protection and more subsidies’ to protect them from ‘overproduction and rock bottom prices’ of milk within EU. – Which they will get, – a subsidy per cow, or something so stupid it can only come from EU. Don’t forget the 35 B SEK that Sweden ‘gives’ net to other EU nations, mainly as farm subsidies, each year. What’s the price of milk in EU then, Frenk?

          • frenk

            Tom. I’m not living in Sweden…and I’m not buying anything from Swedish farmers…and, to be perfectly honest…Swedish farmers never cross my mind! Please go back and read the story regarding Tine and their ‘butter supply strategy’. We are in Norway…where is the ‘super expensive’ Norwegian butter you so admire and want to force everyone to buy?

            • Tom Just Olsen

              Regardless; we (Tine and the other dairies in Norway, – Tine has no monopoly, but is the largest) will now get permission to import butter without tariffs. Most likely from EU – they have overproduction of just anything from cognac to aspargis. To world market prices, hopefully….
              Will that result in ‘lower prices’? No. Market economy, you know.

              • frenk

                Ok then Tom….why can I not import butter from the EU and sell it to supermarkets, shops, resteraunts? Since you claim it is a market economy…

                • Tom Just Olsen

                  For the same reason that you can’t import butter from, say Egypt or Argentina, to Scotland. As (practically) all nations in the world Norway – and all EU countries, protect their farmers through high tariffs. When Norway now have to import butter we can’t do that from anywhere. We have to import this butter from an EU country since EU have a ‘preference’ through the EEA agreement. Again: It’s not (only) high tariffs that make food expensive in Norway. McDonalds will not reduce the price of their cheeseburgers here in Norway if tariffs are reduced. They charge what they can get. Market economy, you know.

                • Tom Just Olsen

                  Sorry, frenk. Just anybody can import butter from EU, but have to pay a hefty tariff. What Tine (and other Norwegian dairies) have asked for is to ‘import without paying tariffs’. Most likely, they will be allowed to do that up to ‘x’ many tons. We import food from EU to the song of somewhere between 26 – 30 B NOK – tariff free on quotas (cheese, vegetables, meat, fruit). Which equals our tariff free salmon exports to EU.

                  • frenk

                    Its not a free market then…only Tine can import and sell…and they set the price…not the actual seller – the supermarket.
                    Maybe its time for Norway to remove all barriers to trade in the food market and let supermarkets import all the quality food products they want from the EU? That way everyone can get what they want at prices dictated by real market forces – supply and demand.
                    Tom – I’m sure you will agree that this is the best way forward?
                    I’d also like to see some of the big European supermarket chains opening stores in the major cities Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen etc. which will force REMA, COOP etc. to start ‘competing’ on product offering, quality, choice, price etc.

      • Observer2796

        You’ve mentioned your personal fortune in different posts TJO. Please tone it down a bit. Not all of us worship at the altar of mammon. There’s more to life than treasure alone. Just sayin’

        Hey do you like puppy’s?

    • Observer2796

      Well damn Frenkie tell us how you really feel! haha. Naw, I think we all get the frustration and passion for your new society. I myself never worked for a true NO company but what is it like? Do you start cutting corners yourself too? I realize there are good and bad days but how’s the work ethic really?

      No snark sincere questions.
      Thanks.

  • frenk

    When you have supermarkets competing on price, quality and service…then you will have a ‘marketplace’.
    If you don’t want to use the products you mentioned above…then buy something else!

  • Robert Neve

    well naturally. After all it’s not like Mcds operates as a franchise and that the owner of that restaurant might want to actually make any money. So if the GDP says charge 70nok for a burger but it costs 90nok to make the burger then of course they will naturally charge 70. Such stores make a fine way to compare costs because the restaurants will have identical menus but different costs.

    • Tom Just Olsen

      But you know that McDonalds will not do something that stupid. The Norwegian McDonald’s franchise is ‘very’ profitable (acc. Kapital). No wonder. The price of their Big Mac here in Norway is (wel, was, before the recent NOK devaluation) the highest in the world.
      http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index