There’s been a boom of big birthdays among Norway’s government leaders, most recently Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre’s 50th birthday celebrations. On Thursday it was former Finance Minister-, now Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen’s turn.
Halvorsen has been a professional politician most of her adult life. It’s been 25 years since she made her entry into the Norwegian Parliament and she’s led the Socialist Left party (SV) for 13 years, a record in itself. No other party leader in Norway has held the position as long as she has.
She finally won a seat in government when her party joined with Labour and the Center Party to form the current left-center government coalition five years ago. Halvorsen won surprisingly good reviews as finance minister but hasn’t seemed as visible as education minister.
While she conceded that even she thought the government had lost some of its energy last spring, she told news bureau NTB earlier this week that her motivation is back on top “and I’m still fit for fight!”
She celebrated her birthday morning with an appearance on TV2’s breakfast talk show, during which her political rival Erna Solberg, head of the Conservative Party, showed up to present her with a chainsaw as a birthday gift.
“There are rumours you like to tear things down,” joked Solberg. Halvorsen said she actually had wanted a chainsaw.
She also said she received a chocolate cake, champagne and Norway’s traditional “Hurra for deg” (Hurrah for you) birthday song from Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, “who sang at full pitch.” A celebration with her party fellows and closest family were also on the agenda.
Audun Lysbakken of SV, a government minister himself, praised Halvorsen for “taking the party to places no one would have thought possible just a few years ago.” He called her a “generous” and “inspiring” leader.
He’s among those tipped to take over for Halvorsen when she steps down, but that may not be any time soon. “50 new years, that’s my slogan,” Halvorsen told NTB.