Three Labour Party veterans will be taking over top posts when Norway’s Parliament (Storting) reconvenes next week. One of them has promised to forego his chewing tobacco when presiding over the country’s most powerful and traditional political institution.
Dag Terje Andersen, a former timber worker from Vestfold, will be taking over as Stortingspresident , officially the second-highest position in the country after King Harald V. As such, the job is loaded with ceremony and formality, which Andersen readily agrees are not his strong suit.
He’s been a politician for years, however, and held three different ministerial posts in the coalition government led by Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. He remains known for generally having a wad of tobacco (called snus in Norway) stuffed under his lip, but told reporters and colleagues that he’ll refrain from using it when the parliament is in session. “I never have when at the podium,” he said.Andersen succeeds another former Labour veteran, Thorbjørn Jagland, who this weekwas elected secretary general of the Council of Europe.There had been speculation the prestigious post now would go to the Conservatives, with its former leader Per-Kristian Foss as a candidate. Instead Labour has held on to it and another party veteran Marit Nybakk, will become one of the parliament’s vice presidents, probably along with Foss and Øyvind Korsberg of the Progress Party.
Andersen has served as Stoltenberg’s cabinet minister in charge of business issues (Næringsminister) , took over as Fisheries Minister when Helga Pedersen went on maternity leave, and most recently has been the minister in charge of labour and integration issues. He’s run into sharp criticism, not least as the minister in charge when the state agreed to invest in Kjell Inge Røkke’s Aker empire. Many in the business world felt he lacked experience and insight, and was no match for the executives for which he was supposed to set rules and conditions.Now Stoltenberg has moved him out of the government, opening up both his ministerial post and that of Pedersen’s, who will take over as Labour’s parliamentary leader in the Storting. Some political observers think Pedersen, with Sami roots from northern Norway, is being groomed to eventually be a prime minister candidate for Labour. She simply says she’s happy to take on the jobs Labour’s leaders assign.
Speculation continues over who will form the new ministerial line-up in Stoltenberg’s re-elected left-center coalition. It’s expected current business minister Sylvia Brustad also will be leaving along with some others. Stoltenberg hasn’t set a date as to when the government’s members will be introduced.