A small party formed just a few months with the sole purpose of getting the state to build a hospital in the northern city of Alta managed to win a seat in Parliament in Monday’s election. The party’s founder was as surprised as anyone.
Irene Ojala started gathering signatures for her prospective party, called Pasientfokus (Patient focus), just last spring. She ended up with 13 percent of the vote in the entire election district of Finnmark, and will soon be moving to Oslo.
Asked whether she was going to be lonely in the Parliament, she told state broadcaster NRK “no, because I have my flock with me,” referring to everyone else in Alta who have been clamouring for a local hospital. Alta has a population of around 20,000, but when residents get sick or have accidents, the nearest hospitals are in Hammerfest and Kirkenes, requiring long drives or flights.
Ojala admits she didn’t expect to actually win a seat in Parliament away from the far more established Progress Party, “but at least folks now know what this is all about.” With a left-center majority government including the Center Party, which champions more state services near where people live, Pasientfokus may win support.