The Norwegian Labour Party’s youth group AUF has seen its membership grow by more than 40 percent since it was attacked by a right-wing extremist on July 22, 2011. The attacks both on AUF’s summer camp island of Utøya and on the government complex in downtown Oslo clearly have inspired support.
“I got involved because I think it’s positive to be able to influence society in the direction I think is right,” Sandra Kristin Austgulen, leader of the Os chapter of AUF in Hordaland, western Norway, told state broadcaster NRK on Wednesday.
The chapter, located in what traditionally has been an area where the conservative Progress Party has dominated, is one of the latest to be formed in Hordaland County. Before the attacks four years ago, AUF in Hordaland had 750 members. Now it has 1,100.
AUF’s growth rate nationwide has been just as big, from 9,600 members four years ago to nearly 14,000 now. “That’s unusually strong growth for a political party’s youth group,” Professor Frank Aarebrot at the University of Bergen told NRK. “In one way, Anders Behring Breivik (the convicted bomber and gunman who killed 77 people in his attacks) has done them (AUF) a favour. The more Breivik and his followers write on the Internet, the more popular it becomes to be a member of (political) youth organizations.”