Theater of Cruelty

different country

This election could put an end to the right-wing wave that has rolled across the country with ever-increasing power since the Willoch government triggered it in 1981.


The country is different here already, because where in Europe has a government alternative been erected which – with chances of winning – goes to the polls on:

  • n that public services should not be impaired in scope and quality to make room for tax cuts,
  • n that the privatization wave must be stopped,
  • n that public sector restructuring should take place through active cooperation with employees and not through competitive exposure,
  • n that work environment rules and rights for employees should not be improved?

The disappointing answer

The answer is disheartening. This is the case only in Norway. In Denmark, the majority in the Folketing is so market liberal, so environmentally, culturally and minority hostile that it should be a huge space for a red-green alternative. Instead, all parties, with the exception of the Unity List (not yet a three percent party), are moving in the direction of a Danish People's Party of which Carl I. Hagen is just a pale gloss.

In Sweden, there may be a crushing election victory for the right-hand side in next year's election. The Social Democrats face the social challenges, and the Vänster Party lies with a broken back. In the United Kingdom, Blair, in Italy, controls Berlusconi. In Germany, the new left can gather large numbers of protest voters, while the choice between Schröder and Merkel is not a choice of policy. Both account for more market solutions, the reduction of welfare schemes and weaker professional rights.

It's not a lie

- if it's not true

There is not a single European country where the trade union movement has achieved what can happen in Norway – that it is a government alternative that promises voters a fundamental breach of the privatization and competition policy that all governments have stood for since Willoch came to power in 1981. .

Stoltenberg can deny that he has changed course. Valla claims the opposite, not because it is true BUT BECAUSE IT WILL BE TRUE. However, the promises of what a red-green government stands for can still be written in the sand. In that case, Norway becomes a European country like everyone else, with disillusioned voters and parties choosing the least resistance to the increasingly free play of the markets, corporate leaders and stock market speculators.

The Right has dreamed

The three parties that are committed to co-operation in a red-green government disagree on many important issues – partly on issues of a basic strategic nature. They disagree on whether Norway should join the EU, disagree on the EEA, whether the right of veto in the EEA agreement should be actively applied against new EU directives affecting Norwegian interests, on oil and gas extraction in the Barents Sea, on forest protection and on be a rematch about our future pensions.

Nevertheless, the three parties have, step by step, come together because it is necessary to reverse the social development that the Bondevik government has been responsible for – if important qualities of Norwegian society are to be safeguarded. With the support of the Progress Party, the Bondevik government has had a majority to unleash market forces in a way that generations of Conservative politicians have only been able to dream of.

The heroes Rønningen, Myrvoll and Andersen

This situation is unique in Europe, and has not occurred from one night to the next. Kimen was laid when trade unions after unions from the late 1980s had to come to the realization that in the Storting, one could only get the Labor Party to support trade union demands if one went the way of the SV.

Børre Rønningen, Inge Myrvoll and Karin Andersen became channels and tools for trade unions that would influence the group of the Labor Party in case after case. They are three of the great SV heroes in this prehistory.

Far from all matters were won, often the compromises between the SV and the Ap were far weaker than they should have been. But it became increasingly clear to ever larger parts of the Norwegian trade union movement that during the market-liberal right-wave, the road to influence via SV!

The breakthrough

No one in LO could talk about this in public. But when LO emerged as a driving force for a government collaboration between SV and the Labor Party, and bet on the "long election campaign" to win a majority for the red-green alternative, it was a breakthrough not only for SV, but also for LO. From then on, LO could stand openly with political demands that a possible red-green government can only meet if the Labor Party moves to the left.

The election result and the strength of SV in a possible government will have an impact on whether we get a new policy, not just a new government. But it is crucial that the trade union movement keeps up the pressure, that it is not bound up by compromises within the Labor Party's central board where both Gerd Liv Valla and Jan Davidsen are members, and that it continues to mobilize members every time the "new policy" begins to resemble the old.

Nightmare or a better Norway?

For the time being, it is SV and LO that make it possible to see the contours of a “different country” – in welfare policy and in policy towards working life. The environmentally different country is further into the future. But an SV with increasing business policy credibility could also be a spearhead for the environmental policy turnaround operation.

None of us know the election result. Should Carl I. Hagen bring so many voters that there will still be a bourgeois majority, the next four years can be a nightmare for anyone who wants a Norway with small social differences, with a working life that the vulnerable of us can also master. increasing tolerance for minorities among us.

For twenty years, Norway stood out in Europe with particularly low income differences. We no longer do that. In 1985, the richest tithe of us earned 4,5 times as much as the poorest tithe. In 2002, the richest tithe earned 6,6 times as much. It is no small task to reverse that trend. That the challenge can be posed makes Norway a different country in Europe. It's too bad, it's so good.

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