Outspoken investor Øystein Stray Spetalen caused a stir among Norway’s smaller political parties on Friday, saying he sincerely hopes they’ll be “erased” from parliament in the upcoming national elections.
Asked by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) to comment on an opinion poll, Spetalen would not say which party he favors himself. But “for the sake of democracy,” Spetalen said he would like to see parties like the Liberals (Venstre), the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti) and the Center Party (Senterpartiet) lose their representation in Parliament (Stortinget).
Spetalen is unhappy that parties winning three, four or five percent of the vote often get key positions allowing them to promote special interest policies. “Unfortunately, that’s been damaging for ordinary Norwegians,” Spetalen told NRK.
“Senterpartiet and Kristelig Folkeparti are sitting there, for example, getting breakthroughs in matters where 95 percent of the population haven’t had a say,” Spetalen complained. “And they get to influence budgets and a lot of developments in Norway. They’re an impediment for the common man.”
Unsurprisingly, small parties voiced a couple of disagreements with Spetalen, known for his temperament and undisputed talent for straight talking. Terje Breivik, deputy head of Venstre, which at one point had three government ministers but only enough votes to win two seats in the Stortinget, said Spetalen is out of tune with popular opinion.
“In politics, like in business, plurality is an advantage. You get influence not only from size, but also from political substance. You can’t just sit down with a calculator and define the best result in mathematical terms,” Breivik said.
Erna Solberg, leader of the much larger conservative party (Høyre), also disagreed with the investor. “Democracy means that people get to vote for parties that are close to them, so people must be allowed to vote for parties that are not so large,” she told NRK.
Hallvard Langeland of the Socialist Left party (SV) agreed with Spetalen that small parties have had a lot of influence in government. “But we have initiated political debates on foreign policy, the environment and equal pay which Norway would not have had if it weren’t for us,” Langeland told NRK.
“That has developed democracy rather than undermining it.”