Oil Minister down for the count

Terje Søviknes, Norway’s bullish Oil & Energy Minister, won’t be able to help either government colleagues or his Progress Party colleagues much with the current election campaign. He’ll be watching from the sidelines, at least until he’s finally allowed to hobble around on crutches following what he calls an “absurd” accident last weekend.

Oil Minister Terje Søviknes faced surgery on an ankle broken while dancing last weekend, followed by four months on crutches. PHOTO: FrP/Paul Weaver/NA bilder

“We were having a nice time with friends on Saturday,” Søviknes told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) from his hospital bed in Bergen. “We were outdoors (at home in Os, outside Bergen), they had a new terrace, it rained and it was a bit slippery. We decided to dance a bit anyway, and it all went very wrong.”

Søviknes slipped and fell while dancing. Intense pain made him realize something was very wrong indeed. He went to a local emergency clinic on Sunday and was quickly transferred to Bergen’s main Haukeland Hospital.

Not only had he twisted his ankle but he suffered a fracture as well. He faced an operation on the ankle this week. “Then it will be minimum one week with total rest, maybe two,” Søviknes told NRK. That will be followed by four months on crutches.

“So we’ll see if I manage any election campaigning,” Søviknes said. “We had planned lots of events over the next few weeks, touring the country from north to south. I was supposed to visit all the counties, but I don’t think I’ll manage that now.”

It’s especially aggravating for Søviknes because the upcoming parliamentary election on September 11 marks the first time his Progress Party is essentially running for re-election and defending its place in Norway’s conservative coalition government. Now he has a left foot that’s not functioning.

It’s most likely he’ll simply try to carry out ministerial work from his bed. Even traveling back to Oslo will be challenging. Progress Party leader and Finance Minister Siv Jensen wished Søviknes a speedy recovery, but didn’t have a lot of sympathy.

“I got the clear message that I would get sympathy for two minutes, before I should do whatever it takes to get back on my feet and campaign,” Søviknes said with a laugh. “I’m holding up but it’s very frustrating that this should happen right now. It’s completely absurd.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund