Oslo’s new green, left-wing government coalition wouldn’t get very far without winning political support from the Reds, which bills itself as an “anti-capitalist” party. That’s been secured after the Reds, for the first time ever, signed a cooperation agreement to support the coalition’s budget proposal.
“We’re going to change the course in the capital,” declared Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of the Reds, adding that his party had in turn won support from the coalition for its most important policies against private partnerships.
The Reds won 5 percent of the vote in last month’s municipal election, their best showing ever and equal to that won by the Socialist Left (SV), which managed to secure the mayor’s post on the same amount. The Reds, however, didn’t want to join the coalition government formed this week by SV, the Greens and Labour. Moxnes thinks his small, radical party can have more effect from the sidelines, being the swing vote on various issues.
The Reds’ most important demand, which was met, was for Oslo to build and operate all new day care centers for children either itself or in cooperation with private foundations based only on idealism, not profits. “There will be a full halt to new commercial day care centers in Oslo,” Moxnes told newspaper Dagsavisen.
Labour reportedly was skeptical that the new day care centers needed for 3,000 more children in the capital could be built without participation from private, for-profit interests. Others have questioned whether it’s legal to ban private interests from bidding. “We will of course need to do this within the current legal framework,” incoming Mayor Marianne Borgen of SV told Dagsavisen. “That’s why we have explicit conditions in the agreement (with the Reds) that we need to check the law on this.” Moxnes has no doubt it’s legal to keep private firms out of Oslo’s day care business and prevent new “private straws from sucking their way into the city treasury.”
There are several other examples of how Oslo’s new left-wing government is ending 18 years of rule by the Conservatives. The coalition intends to waive the city’s new ability, as an employer, to hire more parttime help and will instead stick with stricter labour laws. When existing operating contracts at nursing homes run out, the new coalition won’t put them out to bid among commercial players. Instead it’s moving away from public-private partnerships and wants the city to run its own operations. As reported earlier, the city will also impose a new property tax in Oslo, with proceeds earmarked for day care and elder care, and it will boost support for dockworkers who have been at odds with harbour authorities for years.
New city government leader Raymond Johansen said he’s looking forward to close cooperation with the Reds and with Moxnes as Reds leader. “I have respect for Bjørnar Moxnes,” Johansen said, noting that the tone was also good between the two. “It’s good to have predictability when you lead such a large city as Oslo.” He thinks the coalition’s cooperation agreement with the Reds will yield that, “but that doesn’t mean we won’t strive for widespread agreement (with all parties) where it’s possible, for example within environment and transport.”