Thorvald Stoltenberg, whose own son Jens is among the many who simply call him “Thorvald,” is planning a political comeback at the age of 83. The elder Stoltenberg, a Labour Party veteran and both a former defense- and foreign minister, now has his eyes on city government in Oslo, following in the footsteps of his late wife Karin.
“Thorvald” told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) this week that he just loves election campaigns, and wants to be part of next year’s race for seats in municipal governments.
“I am dependent on election campaigns to live a happy life,” he told NRK, noting that he’s been heavily involved in every Norwegian election campaign since 1964.
“It’s all about people, and then you meet people,” he said. “On the street corners, at the market squares, when we knock on doors.” And instead of just taking part to help other Labour Party candidates, Thorvald Stoltenberg says he’s considering making a run for office himself, at the suggestion of current party secretary Raymond Johansen, who has announced he’ll be running for the top city government post himself.
“Whether you work at the UN or in a neighbourhood commission, it’s all about people,” he repeated to NRK. “I’m not doing this because I like tunnels and bridges a lot, but because they affect people’s lives.”
Stoltenberg, who lives in Oslo’s west side neighbourhood of Frogner, is among the candidates on the list now being sent out to around 6,000 members of Oslo’s chapter of the Labour Party and its youth organization AUF. They can choose eight names on the list as part of an advisory grass roots election.
“This will go through a process in the Oslo chapter and it can end with me not being on the list,” he told NRK. That’s okay too, he says, although he’d like to participate.
“I can say, without meaning to boast, that I have become old,” Thorvald Stoltenberg said. “And I think I can contribute with something called ‘experience.'” In addition to his national and international political career, he’s been a career diplomat and served as Norway’s ambassador to Denmark.
If he doesn’t win a spot on the list, he’ll still take part in the campaign and may have more time to visit his son and daughter-in-law who have just moved to Brussels, where Jens Stoltenberg is now secretary general of NATO. They’ve set aside a room for Thorvald in their new home, “and we hope he comes as often as he wants, even though he’s always so busy,” Jens laughed to reporters last week as he settled into his new job.