Parliament’s president seeks re-election

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Olemic Thommessen, the veteran politician for the Conservatives Party, isn’t hanging his head in shame. Despite being the target of massive criticism during his term as Stortingspresident (President of the Norwegian Parliament), he wants to hang on to his job instead.

Olemic Thommessen has “made himself available” to continue in his role as president of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget). The post ranks second only to the monarch in Norway. PHOTO: Stortinget

“I’m making myself available for the party, where it wants to use me,” Thommessen wrote in an email to newspaper Aftenposten this week, which reported that Thommessen was ready for another four years the post.

He can’t be at all assured that the rest of the Parliament is ready for him. Even some members of his own party joined the criticism against him and the administrative leader of the Parliament, Ida Børresen, after a series of conflicts and what’s described as a “scandal” involving huge budget overruns on a building project that went out of control during their leadership. It emerged just last week that Børresen would not be seeking a new term and would retire instead.

Thommessen, age 61, has been on what Aftenposten called a “collision course” with many Members of Parliament. He also has endured tough criticism from the state auditor general (Riksrevisjonen) over both the rising costs of the building project and various other expenses. He also was under fire and faced public reprimand by the Parliament’s disciplinary committee for defying the will of Parliament regarding the evaluation of a commission monitoring intelligence, surveillance and issues of national security.

Now it’s up to a majority in Parliament to decide his fate. It remains unclear whether Prime Minister Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservatives, will propose that he continue in the post. Trond Helleland, leader of the Conservatives’ delegation in Parliament, simply noted that the entire national assembly will come together again in early October and he couldn’t answer questions about the president’s position until then.

Political positioning underway
The Labour Party, which remains the largest party in Parliament desite its election loss last week and failure to see a left-center majority emerge, wouldn’t rule out that it has a candidate of its own (reported to be party veteran Martin Kolberg, who most recently has led the disciplinary committee).

Both the Center Party and the Socialist Left have made it clear that they want Thommessen to be replaced. “There have been several cases in which the office of the Stortingspresident, with him as leader, hasn’t done a good enough job,” MP Per Olaf Lundteigen of the Center Party told Nettavisen. SV agreed: “The building issue was not handled well, and gave us reason for a lack of confidence (in Thommessen),” said one of its veteran MPs, Karin Andersen.

There’s lots of post-election political positioning going on at present, both within parties and regarding ministerial posts and seats in Parliament. Prime Minister Erna Solberg was meeting with the leaders of all four non-socialist parties Thursday evening, meanwhile, in her first formal attempt to form a new coalition government. Positions within the Parliament likely won’t be confirmed until that’s settled.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund