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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Parliamentarians doubt own power

Only 10 percent of Norwegian parliamentarians believe that parliament is the most important political institution in the country, the lowest number ever recorded by researchers.

The latest study, carried out in April, shows that 70 percent of parliamentary representatives believe that government is the place where policy is made and decided on. In last year’s poll, 19 percent felt that parliament was the most important area, while 59 percent chose government.

Opposition parties were quick to blame the government for parliamentarian’s lack of confidence. Per Sandberg, the deputy leader of the conservative Progress Party, told news agency NTB that “the total absence of opportunities for parliament to have any influence on policy is a serious democratic problem.” He believes that this means that “voters’ voices are completely ignored,” and this applied just as much to supporters of governing parties as opposition groups. Sandberg added that his first two periods in parliament, from 1997 to 2005, were very different to what we had experienced since 2005. “There is no dialogue between the parties in order to create policy,” he said, and that in particular “work in the committees consists mostly of giving the rubber stamp to issues that come from government.”

Gunnar Mathisen, a senior adviser with the Nordic communication consultants Geelmuyden Kiese who undertook the study, was even more scathing of the government, criticize Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s “Stoltenbergian parliamentarianism” for shifting power from parliament to government. He told newspaper Dagasavisen that “the most difficult issues are handled in private by the government,” adding that “parliament has become more of a spectator than an arena for political debate.”

The survey also showed that more and more politicians believe that the Red-Green coalition government will not be re-elected in 2013. 55 percent now believe that this will be the last period of Red-Green government, compared to only 20 percent last year. Half of the respondents came from parliamentarians in governing parties.

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