It’s not always easy for top politicians to return to the ordinary working world after losing an election. Fully 21 former Members of Parliament claimed severance pay benefits after losing their seats in Stortinget in the last election in 2013, some of them for a full year when they failed to find new work.
With a new national election looming next year, the Parliament’s severance pay provisions will become highly relevant once again. More MPs stand to lose their jobs in line with voter results. That’s also what made a proposal this autumn to double the Parliament’s current severance pay benefit, from 12 months to 24 months, especially controversial.
Shamed into reversal
The proposed doubling of severance pay benefits is now due to be defeated in a new round of voting this week, after the Labour Party, the Liberals, the Christian Democrats, the Progress and Center parties were all shamed into reversing their support for it. Their initial decision to allow themselves lucrative protection from unemployment, at a time of high unemployment in Norway, proved to be politically incorrect.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) also reported how MPs losing their seats have already shown how they’ve taken advantage of the current once-year severance pay benefit. Fully 21 MPs who left Parliament in 2013 had trouble finding new sources of income. Nearly half continued to draw salary from the Parliament for a full year.
The vast majority hailed from the conservative Progress Party. Even though it won the election in terms of its ability to become part of a government coalition for the first time, its 16.3 percent of the vote in 2013 was much less than the roughly 22 percent it had won in 2009 and 2005. That meant it lost several seats in Parliament and eight Progress Party politicians left the national assembly. Of them, more than half claimed severance benefits for the full 12 months allowed when they failed to find new jobs. Some, including Per Roar Bredvold, Vigdis Karen Giltun and Laila Marie Reiertsen, continued to draw compensation of well over NOK 500,000 (USD 60,000).
All parties involved
Former MPs claiming severance benefits when they faced unemployment came from nearly all politicals parties represented in Parliament. Others claiming 12 months of pay included, for example, Akhtar Chaudry of the Socialist Left party (SV), Borghild Tenden of the Liberal Party and Dag Ole Teigen, Tor Bremer and Ingalill Olsen of the Labour Party. Teigen, Bremer and Olsen all received compensation of as much as NOK 564,691, as did Tenden.
Even formerly high-profile politicians had trouble finding work, including Hallgeir Langeland of the Socialist Left, who accepted severance benefits for seven months until he landed a new job as a teacher back home in Rogaland.