Theater of Cruelty

Rejects fight for SV's soul

Despite the protests of profiled SVs against their own government creating divisions in their own ranks, shop stewards on the ground level reject that there is a battle for SV's soul.


One month after the SV took over the government offices for the first time in history, there has been no shortage of issues that have caused it to blow hard at the tops of the party's ministers and political leadership.

And it is not only political opponents or groups outside the SV that have provided the winds. For it is not least profiled SVs who have been in the brink of bitter criticism of their own government.

Most clearly, this has come to the fore when even parliamentary representatives from the SV participated in a demonstration last week outside the Storting in protest of the government's decision to send F16 aircraft to Afghanistan.

But security policy has not been the only thing that has created waves within the SV. The environmental case has also led to breakages.

First, Environment Minister Helen Bjørnøy approved drilling in the disputed Goliath oil field in the Barents Sea, and shut down. Then she blamed her on time, and let the development of the Hatteberg River drain go her way. And this week she hesitated again so that a wealthy shipowner set off with a large chunk of Hardangervidda. Also these things got the SV minister pepper from their own.

When a new deputy leader and party secretary is to be elected during the party's national board meeting in a week, the media debate is first and foremost on which wing of the SV the different candidates belong to.

So what exactly is happening to SV after it has gone from opposition to position? Are the protests against their own government and the withdrawal of leadership candidates indicative of an internal struggle for SV's soul?

- Fueled by media

Ny Tid has called 14 of 19 county leaders and other representatives of the Socialist Party to find the answer. That porotestene profiled OR-ing in front of parliament last week creates discord, there is no doubt (see separate article).

But at the same time, almost all the county leaders say the following about SV's soul: There is no fight about it in the party.

- No, it takes not a power struggle about SV's soul, says county leader Kirsten Hasvoll in Nordland.

Like other county leaders, she believes that it is the media that misrepresents it this way.

- Now portrays the media that we are disloyal only we say something other than what the government has adopted. But SV must promote its own policies even if we do not get support for all our cases in government. I do not see it as a battle for the soul, says county leader in Nord-Trondelag, Arnfinn Monsen.

- "Commotion" is driven by the media. SV open party culture makes various remarks made visible. It is important for the party and did not express division, said county leader Michael Bo Bergman in Vestfold.

Many of the county leaders also do not have a great sense of the division of SV into a left and a right wing.

- Many of us, myself included, is considered to belong to the left side in some areas. But in other areas we do not. It goes much more criss-crossing than the press thinks, says county leader Erling Outzen in Møre og Romsdal.

- I see it as contradictory to talk about a left in a leftist party. One must be able to disagree without being stamped as the one or the other, says county leader in Telemark, Steinar A. Miland.

- Political overtones

However, when we come up with candidates for deputy leader and party secretary, it turns out that many county leaders allow such matters to influence the election of candidates.

Both Audun Lysbakken and Ingrid Fiskaa are considered left-side candidates. But several counties who have proposed to Ingrid Fiskaa as a candidate for office as party secretary are no longer sure if they will vote for her.

- We suggested Audun Lysbakken as the new deputy and Ingrid Fiskaa as party secretary, because SV's crew in the government was a bit too mainstream and on the right side of the party. But that was before the debate started. Now there are more uncertain and open if we vote for Fiskaa. A party secretary must not only have political expertise, but also expertise in organizational management, says Aksel Hagen, county leader in Oppland.

- Deputy Chairman and Party Secretary must reflect the breadth of the party. If we choose Lysbakken we can not choose Fiskaa, says Terje Myhre, county leader in Aust-Agder.

- If we absolutely must look at it that way, then it will be a good balance with Lysbakken as deputy and sigbjørn molvik as party secretary, so we suggest, says Miland Telemark SV.

- There is enough political overtones when it comes to who should be selected, said county leader in Sor-Ola Huke.

However, others will tone down this page, as the county governor in Oslo does:

- That there is struggle for top positions in the OR because there are many talented candidates. To think that it is a battle of SV's soul is to take it too far, says Hans Petter Aas.

- Takes a fight

Ny Tid also spoke with members of the socialist party's central board that does not represent the counties. Female Political leader Oddrun Remvik sees it differently than the majority of county leaders:

- It is clear that there is a struggle for the party's soul. SV must be well to the left of the Labor Party. Otherwise there is no point with SV, she says.

When it comes to the election of party secretary, the most important thing for her is that SV gets one who can build the party's organization, so that one can cope with upcoming dilemmas like the F16 case.

- Besides, I do not think we should pay attention to the argument that we must have in men because there are too many women in the National Executive Committee. The intention of the rule of at least 40 percent of each sex was that SV would ensure women's representation in the party, said Remvik.

Directly elected to the government, Gro Merete Siri, in turn, answers both yes and no to the question of whether there is a battle for SV's soul.

- At the same time this could be a derailment. It is more important what qualifications one party secretary has than how far left or right we are. I find it a bit provocative when I hear it and it is inside Kristin Halvorsen's heat, while others are not, says Siri.

Warns SV management

Ivar Johansen, Councilor for SV in Oslo and active on the network No to new NATO, is that most New Time has spoken with positive to the coalition government have achieved so far.

- In the short time it has got quite a lot, with a good direction on the budget. But the government has come askew in relation to security, says Johansen.

He believes the protests outside the Storting last week illustrate that the SV has not set up good enough systems to involve a wide range of the party on important issues such as sending fighter jets to Afghanistan.

- It must not be that people just are informed of what has already been adopted, says Johansen, who participated in the demonstration outside Parliament.

- There will be many demonstrations of interest groups outside Parliament. We can not stop being a part of the extra-parliamentary work because we are with the government. When peace movement demonstrates outside Parliament, we should not just look at, we should be a part of it, says Johansen.

He warns that the government's security policy can be a major problem for the SV.

- 60.000 people participated in the demonstration against the Iraq war in Oslo in 2003. This was the largest demonstration in Norway for many, many decades. It shows the explosive power of this. If these people do not feel that the new government continues the policies that are critical to America's global warfare and NATO offensive strategy, it can be very dangerous for SV, says SV-politician.

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