Norway’s tormented Christian Democrats party (Kristelig folkeparti, Krf) doesn’t seem ready to embrace the younger, sexier image pushed forward by one of its two deputy leaders last year. She’s been summarily dumped off the rostrum by the party’s election committee.
Inger Lise Hansen, who sprang to national fame when she posed in nightgowns and (albeit relatively discreet) underwear in a magazine interview last year, won’t be renominated for her post at party elections this spring. Hansen apparently was more than the party’s conservative wing could handle.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” Hansen told newspaper Aftenposten. Discontent over what the Norwegians called her utspill (roughly, initiatives) had been brewing in the party for months, not just over her style but over her proposals last year for various reforms.
Hansen proposed that the party should show tolerance for homosexual marriage, re-evaluate its unwavering support for Israel and join the European Union, among other things. She urged more tolerance in general and efforts to make Krf more attractive to younger, more liberal voters, not least since its standing among voters has withered. Once an influential party, it now holds only around 4 percent of the vote, a level that even threatens its representation in Parliament.
The conservative faction wasn’t interested in tolerating views that it believes collided with their Christian views. The party’s election committee, which nominates candidates for party leadership, dropped Hansen, highly unusual for an incumbent politician.
Hansen, however, has enjoyed support from a former prime minister from the party, Kjell Magne Bondevik and from the party’s new leader, Knut Arild Hareide. She put a brave face on her election committee defeat, claiming “there’s more to life than politics” and that she would find something else to do after her term ends in May.
Professor Frank Aarebrot, who specializes in election research, said he thinks Hareide will “take care” of Hansen’s political talent. Aarebrot thinks Hareide will appoint Hansen to some other party position or set her up as a candidate for a seat in Parliament at the next election in 2013.
“It will be exciting to see what Kristelig folkeparti does with Hansen now,” Aarebrot told Aftenposten. “I think even many of those who shoved her out agree with her.” But with Hareide as a “liberal” Christian as well, Aarebrot noted, “they couldn’t have two liberals at the top.”