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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Politicians polled push for opening ‘polet’

Norway’s state-controlled retailer of liquor and wine, Vinmonopolet, may get a political green light to expand its opening hours, the latest in a long series of moves to liberalize alcohol sales, at least a bit.

Vinmonopolet's logo

Popularly known simply as ‘polet, the state retailer has undergone quite a bit of liberalization in recent years. Now another old regulation may be scrapped: The ban on alcohol sales on the days before public holidays, as well as the holidays themselves.

Free-market-minded politicians on the conservative side of Norwegian politics have long lobbied to remove the restriction, and now it seems that several left-center politicians in power are going along. “The prohibition only gives the right-side ammunition,” Audun Lysbakken told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), which has been polling politicians on the opening issue for the past several days. Now Lysbakken of the Socialist Left party (SV) favours dropping the pre-holiday restriction, as does Lars Peder Brekk and Marit Arnstad of the Center Party and Raymond Johansen and Thomas Breen of the Labour Party. Even the political adviser to Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, who’s on holiday, seemed to go along. “It’s important to limit access in our alcohol policies,” Tord Dale told DN. “But it’s also important that the limits aren’t viewed as unreasonable.”

That raises the question of whether a majority of politicians might consider lowering Norway’s punitive taxes on alcohol as well, since many feel they’re also unreasonable. A recent survey indicated a surprising number of Norwegians condone bringing more tax-free liquor home than allowed, because taxes on alcoholic beverages sold in Norway are so high.

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