Theater of Cruelty

Calls for ideology in the election campaign

The Norwegian election campaign is mostly about distributing increased wealth, while the heavier debates in principle have failed, according to foreign journalists covering the parliamentary elections.


The Norwegian election campaign is followed by foreign media. But most people struggle to find the good and interesting things they can serve for their readers, viewers or listeners abroad.

- The election campaign has been a strange story. Heavy issues such as the relationship with the EU, immigration and the environment have not been included in the election campaign, says Björn Lindahl. Based in Oslo, he covers Norway and Norwegian politics for, among others, the Finnish-Swedish Hufvudstadsbladet, the Danish Politiken and the Swedish Göteborgs-Posten and Svenska Dagbladet.

He points out that the election campaign is largely about how the increased welfare should be distributed among Norwegians. Björn Lindahl has also noted in his coverage that the political parties are unable to gather people for the general elections.

- The voters show little interest in what the parties want on the agenda. That the parties are not able to find the right issues is shown by the demonstration on Youngstorget in Oslo last Saturday. This was the largest single demonstration during the entire election campaign. It is worth noting that this was an event in which the political parties did not participate, but dozens of trade unions, Attac and peace organizations, says Bjørn Lindahl.

Little to report

Bengt Lindroth covers the election campaign for Sweden Radio. He believes that when he looks at the issues raised in the election campaign, these are areas that we recognize from both Danish and Swedish election campaigns.

- We see the same discussions about elderly care, health care and other important welfare issues in the three Scandinavian countries. The only difference is that the school and the school environment have been given a clearer place in the Norwegian election campaign than we have seen in the other two countries, says Bengt Lindroth.

- The most special thing about this election campaign is that the Labor Party wants to govern together with two other parties. In addition, there is history that SV wants to enter a government. This has not happened before in Scandinavia. The Danish Socialist People's Party was close to a government participation in the sixties, while in Sweden it is inconceivable that the Left Party will be part of a government together with the Social Democrats.

Bengt Lindroth misses a discussion about how new jobs will be created in Norway.

- In which part of the economy will the new jobs come. The two alternatives talk about reducing unemployment, but the debate seems significantly tamer in Norway than in the other countries.

Gísli Kristjánsson, who works for the state-run Icelandic radio RÚV, believes that the dividing lines between the right and left sides are clearer in Norway than in many other countries.

- The election campaign seems factual. Issues related to moralism and materialism are dominant, says Gísli Kristjánsson, who believes that the parties can act as isolated institutions.

Many debates

Alister Doyle is a correspondent for the international news agency Reuters. Among other things, he has noticed that the interest in participating in debates both in the media and in direct contact with people is much greater in Norway than in many other countries.

- It is very special that the two leading prime ministerial candidates, Stoltenberg and Bondevik, meet for as many as ten debates. In Germany, the two prime ministerial candidates will meet only once before the election on 18 September. George W. Bush and John Kerry met only three times in a direct debate before the 2004 presidential election, says Alister Doyle.

Doyle is also keen on the openness that characterizes the political debate in Norway and the Nordic countries.

- Even though the Nordic countries have experienced the murder of leading politicians, such as Olof Palme in 1986 and Anna Lindh in 2003, we still see that ministers and politicians take to the streets and greet the voters.

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