Norway first with Jonas
Five years after the “America First” doctrine, the red-greens follow. Will the internationalist Jonas Gahr Støre become head of a Norway first government?
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“Well, that was some weird shit.”
Former United States President George W. Bush was slightly shocked when Donald Trump unveiled his inaugural address as the 45th President of the United States in January 2017.
The main message of the speech was that Trump would henceforth rule the world’s largest country in line with the slogan “America First”. The international, multilateral and globally oriented era in American politics was over, the new boss declared.
These days, the echo from Washington resounds in little Norway. But where Trump was a dark blue reaction to the best system, it is completely different political forces that use the slogan in this country.
There’s a new sheriff in town. His name is Jonas Gahr Støre, and he will try his best to get the ball-driven herd on the victorious red-green side to move in the same direction. As with any change of power, a new language and new narratives are needed.
But even before we know what kind of government he will lead, there is a rift in the report on Støre’s new Norway. For the internationalist Støre, the man of dialogue, is facing the perhaps most nationally introverted shock and compromise-seeking Norwegian prime ministerial candidate he has ever had to deal with.
Now they finally admit that they like different
The Center Party is already out and wants large demand exports through the foreign cables out of Norway (well “helped” by the price of electricity), and gets support and a little more from the left-wing opposition in Red, which will “take control of the power” and postpone openings of the new power cable to The UK indefinitely-in practice shelving the entire North Sea Link project, which settles in operation from 1 October. A not very original tip is that these two parties will compete to lead the most nationally conscious rhetoric in the sequel, with the FRP necking behind on the blue side.
SV, for its part, is fighting with its beak and claws to prevent the outgoing government from implementing the accession to the EU’s fourth railway package. They will of course receive support from Sp, and from the Labor Party’s transport policy veteran Sverre Myrli, who will at the Storting’s EEA committee have to postpone the final processing of cases at meetings on Friday this week.
The government stands its ground and will follow up the decision in the Storting in May, despite the fact that it is only just over a week before the new Storting convenes. “Decisions made in the Storting are a constitutional tradition for implementation,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the usual laconic way. Minister of Transport and Communications Knut Arild Hareide categorically rejects a postponement, and says that the government “definitely does not have a mandate to start work on weakening or challenging EEA agreements”.
Hareide went fresh in the weeks before the election, and almost loved the new night train connection to Copenhagen this autumn. It is possible that it was an attempt to bind the left and especially the train romantics in SV to the government’s EU-based railway policy. The Liberal Party’s Ola Elvestuen believes that reversing this policy could lead to the plan for night trains to the continent being put in drawers, ends and corridors. NHO believes that it would be “sensational if the new government’s first handling would be to trigger a conflict with the EU over EEA agreements in such a central area as transport”.
Soon on rails to Copenhagen?
The Labor Party has guaranteed EEA agreements, and the Center Party’s people were somewhat less harsh on agreements in the election campaign. But for Sp and SV – and not least Rødt – the EEA (ie the EU) is torn in the national chicken coop. They all want to “take back control”, in line with the main message of the British Brexit strategy, as formulated by Boris Johnson’s former adviser Dominic Cummings.
To worldview collide on red-green side. Announcement, with certain adjustments (the so-called «room for maneuver»), to continue the international and multilateral approach to the great challenges of our time – like all our neighboring countries and partners – while the coalition partners will rebuild the sovereign nation state and think Norway first.
When the three parties gather in idyllic, if not nationally romantic, surroundings at Hurdalsjøen hotel, it is a little mystery how one can so stressful worldviews could be united. The outgoing government has also known its strife as well, but the three bourgeois governing parties are the only ones that Norway is first a bad choice for this country we are all so happy in, to quote the SP leader’s inflow and outflow declamation in the election campaign.
Labor is largely on the same line, but manages and weakens party with a leader who is more known for especially about dialogue yet for crystal clear premises for dialogue to stand against the coalition partners’ desire for an introverted course for country and people?
Støre: – This was my last chance
The Norwegian left can of course not be accused of being “trumpeters”, and neither is anyone who does. But a neo-national turn with constant confrontations with our partners will be a marked break with the international anchoring on which all Norwegian politics has been founded for many decades.
Many Labor voters are probably a little comfortable with the fact that the long-awaited election winner is becoming a story about a small country that increasingly says no to binding international cooperation. Some everyone in the yard probably thinks that the most protectionist outbursts from SP and SV teams are “weird shit”.
Then we will see if Støre, Tajik and the others in Ap’s negotiating team manage to carve out a story that incorporates the left – wing Norway’s first policy without actually incorporating it into practical politics.
It will require dialogue work in the master class.