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The way forward

LEADER: This week has shown that more than new personal cabling is needed to give the government a new boost.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

[27. June] A lot can be said about Åslaug Haga's sad sort as Center Party leader and Minister of Oil and Energy on Thursday last week, just three days before her father, farmer leader Hans Haga, passed away.

Again, we see how personal, and basically insignificant, mistakes become common to even a party leader and architect behind the red-green government. The objection is not just the faults themselves, be it Haga's jetty, broadband or stabbur. Most of all, it is the handling of these cases that seems to be falling apart. As it was for Minister of Gender Equality and Inclusion Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen. As it was for former LO leader Gerd-Liv Valla.

The question then is not whether politicians need better morals. The question becomes to what extent they have good media advisors. Or how good the media cover they have.

The difference between the popular Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who in the week's Aftenposten survey is described as the only "duck" in the government, is clear. His appointment of a friend as UN ambassador did not result in the same chase. Despite the fact that both the friendship and the multimillionaire Støre's financial dispositions over the years can hide as many debatable sides as the far more spartan Haga.

What Haga, Valla and Ramin-Osmundsen had in common was not only that they were caught in the act, which many later believe they could and should have gotten out of easily – well, notice if they had just "presented everything at once" ».
There was also another element in the picture: They were politically weakened in advance, before the revelations came, with strong forces that wanted them removed. Haga's Enova and Tromsø Olympics made her more legally fit for cutting. And then the sins of the past, possibly stabburys sinners, have it emerge as a troll of box. Not because you have done something more wrong than before or compared to others, but because it fits that way. One has entered the public snowball round, such as Haga. She was hit by an accumulative force where everything wrong is put into a larger perspective, where it is the vulnerable person's personality and qualities that are being called into question.

The question is whether this is how we want it? Should personal mistakes – even if they were to show how far there is between politicians' lives and teachings – in such a way become decisive for whether one is fit to govern the country and parts of the world? It will be a question of trust, which Haga probably did not have much left of after the media run. But then the question remains whether the public's limit of trust is too low.
If nothing else, this shows the enormous contrast to, for example, France, where even corruption is accepted as a natural burden by the country's politicians. So the problem in Norway is not necessarily that the politicians make too many mistakes and illegalities, but in the case that the media and the public have an overly idealistic image of their elected officials. Therefore, deviations from the right path are not tolerated. You don't realize how many pigs in the forest there are.

This is how today's moral outrage and demands for resignation testify to the same thing that Bill Clinton was subjected to in 1998, due to his personal mistakes. Even then, it was not necessarily the error itself, but the lack of honesty about the error, which was put forward as a main point of view. This is how Puritan ethics is cultivated in modern society, through the gaps of our time, the media – including the internet.

More important is what policy the government will implement. In that sense, it is sad that Haga's promising environmental start as an oil minister now seems buried for good, especially since she managed it even before she left. Former Minister of Agriculture Terje Riis-Johansen has not made similar promises to show that he is as much energy minister as oil minister.
It is well to note not promises that are needed now, but action.

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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