Party leader prevails, for now

Bookmark and Share

Liv Signe Navarsete, leader of the troubled Center Party (Senterpartiet, Sp), seemed to emerge from the fray after a week of harsh criticism over her behaviour, her leadership style and her efforts to fend off challenges to her power. Now her opponents claim they support her after all, and she’s ready to run for re-election next year.

Liv Signe Navarsete seems to have survived a power struggle within the Center Party, at least for now. PHOTO: Senterpartiet

The political drama that’s played out within one of the Norwegian government’s three coalition members topped all previous turbulence around the party. It culminated with the threatened resignation of Navarsete’s deputy leader, Ola Borten Moe, as the country’s government minister in charge of oil and energy.

Moe, often viewed as a rival to Navarsete, reportedly was angry that Navarsete wanted to replace his most trusted adviser and fought to keep him. His statements to the media put more pressure on Navarsete at a time when she already was fending off serious complaints from the party’s youth group, which was angry that she had yelled at its leader, Sandra Borch, in public.

On Thursday, she told Aftenposten.no that “it’s clearly very important for Ola Borten Moe to retain Ivar Vigdenes in the job. It’s not equally important for me to replace him. Therefore I think I will put the party first and contribute towards unifying it rather than splitting it.”

That meant Moe won what newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) called “an intense battle” within top party leadership. And then, on Thursday, Moe said he had “full confidence” in the party’s leader and repeated that he didn’t intend to stand for re-election to the Parliament next year, meaning he was out of the race for party leader. Borch also claimed her confidence in Navarsete was restored.

Their party currently has support from less than 4 percent of Norway’s voters, but remains powerful through its position in the government coalition, where both Navarsete and Moe hold ministerial posts. The drama thus captured major media attention, climaxing with an appearance by Navarsete on the popular Scandinavian TV talk show Skavlan due to air Friday night.

During the taping of the show on Thursday, Navarsete confirmed that she would stand for re-election as party leader next spring despite having to make an embarrassing public apology for her behaviour earlier in the week. Another potential rival, Marit Arnstad, who currently serves as Norway’s Transport Minister, also said she’s not interested in the job as party leader, further clearing the way for Navarsete.

Now Navarsete says she’ll go to another leadership course (attendance at an earlier one didn’t seem to help) and continue to work on controlling her temper. She also has said she thinks she’s become good at making apologies.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

Please support our news service. Readers in Norway can use our donor account. Our international readers can click on our “Donate” button: