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Time for courage


Safety. That word may stand as a summary of the new government, which was presented at Slottsplassen on Monday.

Not without reason. The three party leaders, Jens Stoltenberg, Kristin Halvorsen and Åslaug Haga, will need the security they can secure as they enter into a whole new and untested government cooperation in Norwegian political history.

Both the Declaration of Government and the selection of the 19 Ministers of Government now create optimism and high expectations, as the aid environment and environmental organizations, among others, express in this week's newspaper. But at the same time, the fall height is great, perhaps especially for SV and Kristin Halvorsen.

Stoltenberg as prime minister and Haga as municipal minister are natural and obvious positions for the party leaders in the Labor Party and the Center Party. Halvorsen, on the other hand, as finance minister, is on the other hand a more problematic and challenging choice in a longer political perspective.

There is nothing to delay about Halvorsen's professional background. Among other things, the eight years as a member of the Storting's Finance Committee in the 1990s help to give her good political weight for the demanding work. It should also be said that it is natural that the second largest party in such a three-party government gets the post of finance minister.

But that is not to say that this is the most strategic choice given SV's further political life. The transition from leading an opposition party to being given responsibility for the Ministry of Finance, where the job is basically to say no to the various trade union ministers' "good measures", is enormous.

It remains to be seen how the voters in the next polls will respond to Halvorsen's transition from a leading opposition politician to a leading accountability politician. She and the party here face the challenge of their lives. The danger lies in the fact that it is Ap and Stoltenberg who will benefit most from the fact that the financial urea item has accrued to SV. It will require a very conscious and thoughtful fiscal policy to both fulfill promises, keep budgetary targets and at the same time retain SV's solidarity brand.

The so-called left wing in the SV could have had far more influence in the new government, precisely to keep the party leadership in its ears. Earlier, it has emerged that Audun Lysbakken has refused a government post, allegedly not to be caught by the power of accountability. There is something venerable also in such a refusal of power in favor of continued idealism. But any particular willingness to take political responsibility for the success of the three-party government is not reflected in Lysbäck's refusal.

When in this week's interview with Erik Solheim it also emerges that Halvorsen has done "his utmost" to get Lysbakken involved, it shows that today's SV leadership can hardly be blamed for not letting the more radical voices escape. With his no to ministerial responsibility, Lysbakken has possibly made a smarter strategic choice than Halvorsen, who said yes to the post of Minister of Finance. But Halvorsen has been braver. And what both the new government, Norway and the world out there now need are courageous actions rather than tactical maneuvers.

"The universe rewards the daring," reads an old Indian saying. Words for the day for the new members of the government who in the long run hope for political reward.


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