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Which Frp Country?

Norwegian journalists are still describing Groruddalen in Oslo as "Frp-land", although the drab cities have a solid socialist majority.


"This is Frp-land after all," Progress Party's Per Jan Langerud told Morgenbladet on August 26, without meeting objections from the journalist. The newspaper had made the trip to Tveita, one of the largest villages in Groruddalen, to follow Carl I. Hagen in the election campaign. Earlier that week, I had talked to a journalist at Aftenposten. He was also to cover the election campaign in Groruddalen, and had similarly realized that the drabant towns in Oslo's outer east were "Frp-land". He seemed genuinely surprised when I explained that if Groruddalen had been a self-governing municipality, it would have been completely dominated by the Labor Party and the SV.

Yes, Frp stands strongly in Groruddalen. As many as 22,9 per cent of the Tveita residents gave their vote to the FRP in the local elections in 2003, against 16,5 per cent of the Oslo voters in total. But is it these 6,4 percentage points that make Tveita become "Frp country"? 50,1 percent of the votes on Tveita actually went to SV and the Labor Party. Not so far from the "red county" Hedmark, where the Labor Party and the Socialist People's Party received 52,9 percent support in the same election. Throughout Groruddalen, Årvoll and Høybråten were the only of the 24 constituencies without a socialist majority in 2003. Why do no newspapers write about this, but continue to dispel the myth of the slums as FRP countries? Morgenbladet writes, for example, the following about the FRP's catchment area: "Today, the catchment area has been expanded, both geographically and socially – to old Labor Party land in Groruddalen and northern Norway." Oldies Labor Party? Labor is still by far the largest throughout Groruddalen – with well over the famous 36,9 per cent in Bjerke, Lindeberg, Romsås and Veitvet. So why does no one refer to the slums in Groruddalen as "Labor country"?

My hard facts are from Groruddalen, but I think the situation is pretty much the same in drab cities like Holmlia and Østensjøbyen in Oslo, Flatåsen, Stubban and Risvollan in Trondheim and Loddefjord, Fyllingsdalen and Flaktveit in Bergen. Originally developed as the working class paradise after the Second World War, the Drabant cities are once again forgotten and overlooked by both municipal and parliamentary politicians.

In Groruddalen, there live over 120 people. There are more inhabitants than in Stavanger and in the whole of Sogn and Fjordane counties, but at the Storting no groruddel beer has set foot in the last eight years. The fate of Groruddalen on the Storting's Oslo bench is in the hands of politicians such as Inge Lønning from Bergen, Lars Rise from Hamar and Heidi Sørensen from Levanger. Politicians who like to see themselves as national politicians and rise above the conditions in the urban villages they actually represent. In 000, only three Oslo politicians said that they would work for measures in the valley, and in 1997 they admitted that the Oslo bench in the Storting very rarely gathered behind pure Oslo matters. The Labor Party's Bear Floor Froyn stands in a special class in the last four-year period, when he raised questions about the Groruddalen at the Storting eight times, according to Aker's newspaper Groruddalen. In comparison, SVs Heidi Sørensen and Heikki Holmås asked only two questions, although both represent Oslo on the subject. And they were the second best in the class!

It is not the least wonder that this state-of-the-art treatment of large sections of the metropolitan population has resulted in growing political disdain, increased support for the Frp protest party and declining turnout in the urban villages. Frp sailed to Oslo East on the wings of his immigrant skepticism in the 1980s, and paradoxically many of the immigrants in the same boroughs still remain on the fence on Election Day. Now has Frp attached the grip to many of the older voters, and why not think the explanation for the party's strong status on Tveita lies here? The older ones are today's Tveita gang, and dominate both the center and the cafes in the area. In 2001, the villages in Norway's three largest cities had an average population of 21,3 per cent under the age of 16. At Tveita, the figure was only 11,5 per cent, by far the lowest percentage. Over 20 per cent were over 67 years.

The age may also explain that the turnout in Tveita was among the highest in 2003, with 62,8 per cent, while on average in Groruddalen it fell to well below 60 per cent. In strong red areas such as Romsås and Stovner it crept down to 50 per cent. The main challenge for Frp's competitors in voting fishing in the villages is therefore not to find the reason why so many vote the Progress Party, but to get to the bottom of why so many residents do not vote at all. While keeping in mind that the drab cities still largely reject the right-wing forces, and in fact are closer to an Ap-country than the Frp-country newspapers often want us to believe.

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