Theater of Cruelty

The unpleasant choice


"Politics is not the art of the possible. The task of politics is to choose between the impossible and the unpleasant. "

These words of the Canadian-born social economist John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908) gained new relevance this week. Galbraith wanted to show that German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's (1815-1898) far more well-known words that "politics is the art of the impossible" are not always apt.

The recent increasing media pressure against SV and Kristin Halvorsen has made the choice between "the impossible" and "the unpleasant" increasingly urgent.

With just over three weeks left for the parliamentary elections, it is clear that the party is closer to government than ever before since SF's founding in 1961. Large parts of the media debate over the past week have also been about SV and Kristin Halvorsen: SV's school food accounts, Halvorsen's view of Dagfinn Høybråtens values, the promises of a kindergarten lift during the next parliamentary period.

"We have had a very good week," Deputy Øystein Djupedal summed up to Aftenposten on Wednesday.

It remains to be seen how voters react to the new newly acquired attention the party is getting. Or whether such media matters have a decisive election effect at all.

If nothing else, the increasing attention around SV's argument now indicates that the party is being taken seriously. The question on election day is whether what can be perceived as an "impossible" promise – such as ensuring full kindergarten coverage at the same time as prices go down, after three decades of failed attempts – is perceived as possible for SV to implement.

For the party is now seeking a coalition with Ap. and Sp. And the combination of compromises and the eventual encounter with the realities of power will present the historic opposition party with hitherto unknown challenges.

It is not possible to expect that all matters of the heart can be fulfilled. Something will have to be downgraded. It is in such a situation that it can be useful to know what one stands for, what "values" SV and the left should protect even if one embarks on a new and unknown power-political terrain.

And then we are back to "the unpleasant", as this was started with. Politics is not first and foremost about gain power, the emphasis in the Norwegian election campaign never so much. Politics is first and foremost about how to nominee the power.

When Ny Tid in this week's edition opens up for critical perspectives also on SV's immigration policy, it is based on the premise that one is still faced with a choice: intend to move forward. Right, left, or maybe just right on?


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