Choices narrow for new SV leader

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Audun Lysbakken, one of two deputy leaders of the ailing Socialist Left party (SV), seemed to have even higher chances of being chosen as the party’s new leader following its national board meeting over the weekend.

Audun Lysbakken wants to be the next leader of the Socialist Left party (SV). PHOTO: Sosialistisk Venstrepartiet

Lysbakken, age 34, is also one of SV’s ministers in Norway’s left-center government, in charge of equality and children’s issues. He emerged quickly as a top candidate for the party’s leadership post when long-time leader Kristin Halvorsen announced on election night earlier this month that she intended to step down. The party suffered a massive drop in voter support in the local elections held September 12 and many, including party members, have said SV is in a state of crisis.

Party officials met over the weekend and two important things happened that boost Lysbakken’s chances to take over: Bård Vegar Solhjell, Lysbakken’s co-deputy leader of SV, withdrew as a candidate for the top spot, saying he didn’t feel he had enough support. Solhjell’s withdrawl narrowed the choice to Lysbakken and Heikki Holmås, age 39, who is the party’s spokesman on municipal issues.

And then the party’s national board decided against holding a referendum in which the party membership could vote directly for their new leader. Lybakken wasn’t a fan of a referendum and other national board members clearly wanted to retain power over the election of a new leader.

Now the board will receive a proposal for a new leader from its election committee and the candidate’s name will be presented at an extraordinary national convention due to take place next spring. It’s likely Lysbakken’s name that will be put forward, since he has a high-profile, already serves in government and is the youngest candidate in a party that wants a new, fresher profile.

While the word “crisis” is bandied about often within the party, following its failure to attract more than 4 percent of the vote in the last election, there’s no serious talk of pulling out of the three-party government coalition led by Labour. Lysbakken favours discussion about how to better combine SV’s roles as a member of government while also being an incubator for radical political ideas. Such discussion is aimed at quelling any suggestions that SV may be more effective in opposition than in position.

Lysbakken also wants to renew the party’s political platform, complaining that SV didn’t manage to “set the agenda with new ideas.” He’s likely to come up with some before the national convention.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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