Several groups opposed to military restructuring in Northern Norway demonstrated in front of Parliament on Tuesday against looming cutbacks or shutdowns of the local home guard, the Andøya air station and a helicopter base at Bardufoss. Even though the Labour Party voted in favour of the changes, it now seems to be changing its mind just days before parliamentary elections.
Demonstrators waved signs calling, among other things, for the preservation of Andøya and to strengthen the home guard. They fear a loss of jobs, population and economic activity if the military pulls out and Espen Barth Eide, a top Labour Party politician, told NRK that Labour is open to a new review. Eide, tipped to resume his role as foreign minister in a new Labour-led government, denied Labour’s change of heart had anything to do with his party’s pending government cooperation with the Center Party, which has always opposed the changes.
They were recommended by top military officials themselves as part of long-term defense plans for Norway. Labour, the Conservatives and the Progress Party voted together in going along with the military recommendations to close Andøya and make other cuts that residents of Northern Norway oppose. If Labour wins government power on Monday, the cutbacks are likely to be re-evaluated or even scrapped.