Nobel rejection infuriates Hagen

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Former Progress Party boss Carl I Hagen is furious with his party colleagues over their rejection of his candidacy for a coveted spot on the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Hagen had long sought a seat on the prestigious committee, which decides who will win the Nobel Peace Prize, and his colleagues’ decision to deny him a Nobel appointment marks one of his biggest personal defeats ever.

Progress Party veteran Carl I Hagen is angry and bitterly disappointed that his party colleagues refused to secure him a spot on the Norwegian Nobel Committee. PHOTO: Fremskrittspartiet/Progress Party

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) blasted Hagen’s fury and disappointment on its front page Wednesday, in a story that reveals what went on behind the scenes when party members took up the matter of who would represent them on the Nobel committee. Since the committee is to be named by Parliament, under the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, it generally reflects the political makeup of parliament, meaning the Progress Party is allotted one of the five seats on the committee.

Hagen had made it clear he wanted to join the committee, not least to his successor as party leader, Siv Jensen. But when the matter came up at a meeting of the Progress Party’s parliamentary committee last week, Hagen’s name was not proposed. Instead, his party colleagues were ready to simply re-appoint their current representative on the Nobel committee, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, to a third term.

When one of Hagen’s allies, Peter N Myhre, challenged Ytterhorn’s reappointment and proposed that Hagen replace her, the matter went to a vote. Ytterhorn won, by a vote of 25-6.

It was a bitter and dramatic defeat for Hagen. DN reported that he immediately left the meeting, marched out of the Parliament building and over to the party’s offices across the street and cleaned off his desk. He resigned on the spot as head of the Progress Party’s organization representing senior citizens and from his post on the party’s board.

He wouldn’t say much to DN but clearly feels betrayed. In a five-page memo sent to party leaders and party MPs, and obtained by DN, Hagen complained strongly about how he felt he’d been treated. He wrote that he’d told Jensen two years ago that he had a “strong desire” for a spot on the Nobel committee when Ytterhorn’s second term was up. He said he was “shocked” when he learned that instead, Ytterhorn wanted to continue and would likely be allowed to do so.

“Siv Jensen clearly hadn’t informed the election committee that the former party leader for 28 years and parliamentary leader for 25 years (himself) had a strong wish for a place on the Nobel committee,” Hagen wrote. “Nor had she let me know that she hadn’t forwarded my wish.”

Hagen wrote further that he “hadn’t been so angry and sad for many years.” He added that he had “seldom” felt so let down by a group that he “considered to be colleagues, friends and political allies … who also are to some degree sitting where they are because  of my support and contributions since 1973.”

He admitted that when Jensen called the night before the meeting last week, they had a “hostile debate … where I didn’t hide my anger and enormous disappointment.” Jensen maintained that since Ytterhorn wanted to continue in her Nobel post, there was no available post for Hagen. The leader of the party’s election committee, MP Ketil Solvik-Olsen, said the party was “satisfied with the job Ytterhorn has done. She wanted to keep sitting on the Nobel committee and we wanted her to continue.” That differed from the Labour Party’s appointment process, where they last week announced that longtime member Sissel Rønbeck would be replaced by lawyer Berit Reiss-Andersen.

Hagen views the rejection of his desire for her post as a sign that he’s no longer welcome in the party’s parliamentary committee, where he has held observer status since retiring from his own posts as a Member of Parliament (MP) and vice-president of the parliament. Hagen currently sits on the Oslo City Council for the party after also losing his campaign to be mayor earlier this fall.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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