Career politician wins new top job

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Veteran politicians in Norway don’t just fade away. They often become fylkesmenn – county governors. The latest example is Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, who lost her longtime seat in Parliament when her Christian Democrats party had a disastrous national election in 2005.

Valgerd Svarstad Haugland as made a comeback of sorts, by being appointed county governor for Oslo and Akershus. PHOTO: Kirkens informasjonstjeneste

On Friday, Haugland was appointed new county governor for Oslo and Akershus, even though she for years was identified as a politician from western Norway. Since being forced to give up her lawmaker role (she’s also a former government minister from the years when the Christian Democrats held government power), she stayed in the Oslo area and most recently has been responsible for state churches in the capital.

Now Haugland, age 54, will be back in a top spot, in a post formally appointed by King Harald, as officially the state’s top representative in the counties of Oslo and Akershus. Her appointment reverses what had been a steady decline for Haugland, since she first attracted heavy criticism after her party’s poor showing in municipal elections in 2003 and then felt pressured to resign as leader of the Christian Democrats in 2004.

She beat out another veteran politician for the job, her fellow former minister in a center-right government, Per-Kristian Foss of the Conservatives. Foss is a former finance minister and head of the Conservative Party (Høyre) who has said he’ll leave his longtime seat in Parliament after the next election in 2013. He had signalled in February that he wanted the job as fylkesmann for Oslo and Akershus, but ended up not getting it.

Three others were named as fylkesmenn on Friday, all with previous government service. Svein Ludvigsen, a former top politician for the Conservatives, was reappointed to a new term as county governor for Trøms, northern Norway. Ludvigsen is a former government minister of fisheries and coastal affairs. Jørn Aksel Krog will become county governor for Sør-Trondelag, after a long career in the state fisheries ministry and as secretary general of the large fishing organization Norges Fiskarlag. Anne Karin Hamre was named county governor for Sogn og Fjordane, after serving as assistant county governor for the past three years.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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