Carl I Hagen, the 70-year-old former leader of the Progress Party, was relishing his victory this week as his party’s top candidate in the race to head the Oslo city government. He immediately singled out Labour’s top candidate, Raymond Johansen, as his arch rival, and Johansen had a quick response of his own.
“First I would like to congratulate Carl I Hagen on his nomination, and he’ll get the fight he wants,” Johansen told newspaper Dagsavisen. “I would also like to remind Hagen that his party has had influence and power in Oslo for the past 18 years. Much of the politics he’s criticizing are his own.”
Hagen, who had intended to retire from politics several years ago but missed it too much, switched from national politics to local city politics in the capital, where he’s been an outspoken critic on issues ranging from the failed bid to host a Winter Olympics in 2022 to the billions being spent on a new Munch Museum next door to Oslo’s Opera House, which Hagen and his party also opposed for years.
Now Hagen is ready to battle Labour’s proposal to impose property tax on Oslo residents, as a means of raising new tax revenues. Johansen would rather hear Hagen explain why Oslo’s elder care, a top priority for Hagen’s party, is so poor and under constant criticism for failing to meet needs. There’s an alarming shortage of nursing home space in Oslo, while Labour also wants to build more day care centers for children.
Johansen said that despite Hagen’s victory and emerging role as a major political opponent in next year’s municipal elections campaign, Labour views the Conservative Party as its main political opponent. “The Conservatives make up the largest party in city government at present and Stian Berger Røsland (of the Conservatives) heads the city government, so he’s the one we’ll be challenging,” Johansen said. In many ways, next fall’s election campaign has already begun.