Forcibly merged regions seek divorce

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Fully two-thirds of the residents of Norway’s new giant county of Viken want to reverse the merger process that created it, and revert to being Buskerud, Akershus and Østfold. It’s mostly a matter of regional identity in the new county that extends from the lowlands along Norway’s southern border with Sweden to the mountains around Geilo far to the northwest.

Residents of the former Østfold cities of Fredrikstad and Halden, for example, simply don’t have much in common with residents of the former Akershus (part of the Oslo metropolitan area) or Buskerud, which ran from Drammen up through the mountainous valleys of Hallingdal and Numedal.  Only 23 percent of the residents of all three former counties want Viken to continue to exist. Not even the politicians running the large geographic area want to preserve it.

There’s likely to be a three-way divorce if the left-center parties win the next election, along with a separation of Troms og Finnmark in the far north. Newspaper Dagsavisen recently editorialized that it’s all led to an “absurd” situation. Even some officials in the Conservative Party, which pushed through the regional reform in a drive for economies of scale, is having second thoughts over Viken.

While the Troms and Finnmark counties can revert to their former selves, the question is how Viken might be split up. Instead of going back to three counties, some propose a division along an east-west border on each side of the Oslo Fjord. That would only leave the former Akershus divided, but that’s not so controversial. A split may get underway next year.

newsinenglish.no staff