SV, Greens, Reds make voices heard

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The small parties on the left side of Norwegian politics were jubilant this week over signs that they all may win not just representation but many more seats in Parliament next week. Audun Lysbakken, leader of the Socialist Left party (SV), is among those who’ve been fighting to be heard, and win new political power.

SV leader Audun Lysbakken and other leaders of Norway’s left-wing parties were flying high this week on an apparent surge of voter support. PHOTO: Sosialistisk Venstreparti

Lysbakken was part of the last left-center government headed by Labour that ruled from 2005 to 2013. His party seems to do better in opposition than in position: After winning just 4.1 percent of the vote in 2013 when SV and the former left-center government lost power, some current polls show SV back up in the double digits. SV now may well wind up back in a left-wing coalition goverment led by a weakened Labour Party and able, according to SV candidate for Parliament Kari Elisabeth Kaski, to pull Labour more towards the left.

SV is among the small parties winning favour from voters in a string of recent public opinion polls. They now hold support from 9.7 percent of the voters in Oslo and won 10 percent in the school elections held nationwide earlier this week. “This is a fantastic, uplifting number now at the end of the election campaign,” Kaski told newspaper Aftenposten on Thursday. “It gives us energy for our last push.”

Asked why she thinks SV is doing so well, Kaski said the party has been “crystal clear in what’s most important for us: reducing carbon emissions and social differences in Norway. We are a voice for a new government, but can also secure that the government will have its weight on the left.”

SV benefited in the early 2000s from Norwegians’ opposition to the politics of then-US President George W Bush and now may be seeing an anti-Trump effect. Petter Eide, another MP candidate for SV from Oslo, told Aftenposten last summer that  Trump has “unleashed a more realistic debate on foreign policy cooperation that has more distance from the US.” Eide, former secretary general of Amnesty International, claims SV isn’t opposed to cooperation on defense or with the EU even though it opposes Norway’s membership in either the EU or NATO.

Bjørnar Moxnes thinks next week’s election may mark a nationalk breakthrough for his small Reds party, on the far left side of Norway’s political spectrum. He’s shown here at an event supporting the thousands of refugees who arrived in Norway in 2015. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of the smaller Reds party that’s the most left-wing of all, scored 7.1 percent in the Oslo poll conducted for Aftenposten, and did well in the school elections, too. He thinks this election may mark a national breakthrough for the Reds, even though it’s still viewed by many as Norway’s answer to a communist party.

“Many voters I’ve met say they’ve voted for Labour before but they’re coming over to us because we have a clear voice against welfare profiteers and social dumping,” Moxnes told Aftenposten. His party stresses public sector control of welfare services, higher taxes on the wealthy and more liberal immigration laws receptive to taking in more refugees.

The Greens are also still riding high, although they resist being branded as either on the left- or right sides of Norwegian politics. Their party leaders have claimed they will negotiate with either Labour or the Conservatives and cooperate with whichever party goes along with its demand to halt further oil exploration. Une Bastholm, also happy over recent strong poll results, said she thinks Labour has underestimated voters’ concerns over the climate and the environment.

“We have had our oil policies high on the agenda, and since we make up the swing vote in many polls, they’ve become an important theme,” Bastholm said.

Small non-socialist parties limping along
The two small parties on the non-socialist side of Norwegian politics, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats, continue to limp along in recent polls and may not have much say in the end. They’re not expected to give Prime Minister Erna Solberg the majority she needs to form a new Conservatives-led government with the Progress Party.

The rise of the small leftist parties set off warnings Thursday that if they prevail, “Oslo’s nightmare can become a national reality.” Nikolai Astrup, a Member of Parliament for the Conservatives from Oslo, stressed how Labour, the Greens and SV formed a city government in Oslo with cooperation from the Reds and immediately imposed property tax and ushered in a variety of measures aimed at making it difficult to drive in Oslo. Astrup claims the leftist parties can do the same thing if allowed to team up nationally, forcing cutbacks in the oil industry, curbing highway improvements and limiting private operators of day care centers, nursing homes and other social services in favour of more state control.

After the election, Astrup claimed, “Labour can become more dependent on the revolutionary Reds and Greens,” adding that the small leftist parties “also want considerably higher taxes and fees.” Leaders of the small parties rejected his warnings, claiming they would find “good solutions” and that Astrup should concentrate on his own politics instead of theirs.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund