Grande could escape critics in Berlin

Bookmark and Share

UPDATED: Culture Minister Trine Skei Grande was probably glad she could fly off to hail Norway’s presence at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) just before the weekend. Some Liberal Party colleagues back in Norway were calling for her resignation as party leader, distressed over how voter support has plummeted under her leadership the past few years.

Culture Minister Trine Skei Grande could escape drama and criticism within the Liberal Party she leads at the Berlin International Film Festival this weekend. She posed here with Norway’s ambassador to Norway (left) and the director of European Film Market. PHOTO: Kulturdepartementet

The Liberals only had support from 2.6 percent of Norway’s voters in the most recent public opinion poll carried out for newspaper Aftenposten and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). It’s the worst showing for the Liberal Party (Venstre) ever.

NRK reported on Thursday that several local politicians in the party had sent a letter to the party’s leadership, in which they criticized both leaders and the party’s current policies. They are especially unhappy with what they view as the Liberals’ lack of support for outlying districts in Norway.

Among them is Bjørn Mathisen, former leader of the Liberals’ chapter in Kvæfjord in Troms. He told newspaper VG that Grande should quit. The Liberals’ former mayor in Lødingen, Bjørn Hegstad, agreed. “I feel like my party is really neglecting the districts of Norway, especially after it joined the (Conservatives-led) government,” Hegstad said.

NRK has also reported that some Liberal Party members are already talking openly about who should succeed Grande, who also landed in the middle of a scandal early last year over allegedly having sex outdoors with a minor at another politician’s wedding in Trøndelag. Those accusations surfaced in the midst of the “MeToo” campaign against sexual harassment. Grande seemed to survive that scandal but has also had to deal with a deep split within her party. She’s most recently been accused of speaking badly about party fellows behind their backs and often bursting into tears when meeting opposition at political meetings.

‘Sad and unfair’
She told reporters this week that she’ll “have to tolerate” criticism from some local leaders who don’t think she’s doing a good job. “We have had a district debate in the party for quite a while now,” she told Aftenposten. “It’s something we’re really working hard on.”

Others deny there’s any movement to dump Grande, and support for Grande was voiced at a party meeting in Oslo that Grande flew back to attend on Saturday. “I haven’t noticed any uproar,” Petter Toldnæs, leader of Agder Venstre, told news bureau NTB. Inger Noer, a member of the Liberals’ national board, claimed the board did not stand behind any of the criticism against Grande.

“I think this is sad and unfair,” Noer told NTB. “It’s not in line with my impression of reality.”

Off to Berlin
Grande, who said she has no intention of resigning, could at least fly away for a while from all the fuss  in her capacity of Culture Minister, to open “Norway House” at the Berlin film festival. Norway is one of the so-called “focus countries” at this year’s festival, at which Hans Petter Moland’s new film Out Stealing Horses is competing for a top prize. It’s based on Norwegian author Per Petterson’s book by the same name.

Norway, in return, has invested NOK 6.9 million in its Norway House pavilion at the festival, as a meeting place for lectures, debates and promotion of Norwegian film. Berlin has become an important arena for Norwegian film and Grande think’s it’s important to be there to show face and take part in festivities.

“Germany is one of Norway’s most important partners and export markets,” Grande said. “Along with the book exhibition in Frankfurt and Jazzahead in Bremen, this is a unique means of promoting Norwegian film, literature and music in 2019.”

She said she hopes the investment will “have an effect on the finance and sale of Norwegian productions.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund