Carl I Hagen, the 77-year-old conservative veteran politician for the Progress Party, has found a way to return to Parliament. When he didn’t win a seat from his hometown of Oslo, he found an opening in Oppland and grabbed it.
It was a tight race in Monday’s national election, “nerve-wracking” according to Hagen himself, who sat out the evening at the Lillehammer Hotel and didn’t know until 4am Tuesday whether he’d won a spot.
He did, meaning he’ll now be able to return to Parliament 12 years after “retiring” from national politics. It will be his ninth four-year period as a Member of Parliament, where he served from 1981 until 2009. He’s been a substitute MP for Oslo’s chapter of the Progress Party for the past four years.
Hagen was long an outspoken and controversial leader of the Progress until finally turning over the post to Siv Jensen in 2006. Now Sylvi Listhaug has succeeded Jensen, but she’s also from the same far-right bloc of the party as Hagen.
The party, Norway’s most conservative in Parliament, fared poorly in Monday’s election, winning just 11.7 percent of the vote after having withdrawn a year earlier from the Conservatives-led government. Listhaug is intent on rebuilding the party in time for the next election in 2025.
Hagen has been criticized for mounting a return to Parliament at his age, instead of opening up top spots to younger talent. His own wife, Eli Hagen, has admitted that she’s not enthusiastic about his latest stab at power, “but he’s a political animal so I have to just support him,” she told state broadcaster NRK on Wednesday. “I wish he’d soon realize that he’s a pensionist like me.”
Hagen, a firm supporter of the oil and gas industry, has earlier vowed to continue what he calls the fight against “climate hysteria” and “climate fanatics.” He claims his age is an advantage: “There are lots of active people over age 70 in this country. I hope all seniors in Oppland think it’s fine to have a representative older than 70 in Parliament.”