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Will give room to each one

Norway should both become more solidarity and make room for the individual's development, emphasizes party secretary in SV, Bård Vegar Solhjell.


He is central to all party decisions. He sews together the members of the party, elected officials and elected officials at all times. Party secretary in SV, Bård Vegar Solhjell, is more visible in the public debate than most other party secretaries in this country.

The individual cases are often left to others in the party, while he is more than happy to participate in structural debates and debates about which society we should have in the future.

What visions does he have for his own party, and what society does he want?

- The project I envisage SV to carry out has only just begun. If we win the election this September, then we are only just getting started. If we are to achieve our project, we are talking about a perspective of several decades. The challenge is to create a good society for everyone, says Bård Vegar Solhjell.

He outlines four main areas of focus:

1. Return to Justice Norway

2. The democratization of Norway

3. Knowledge – or what we will live on in the future

4. Norway's role in the world


- These areas are something we must focus on and develop over time. Since World War II, we have built a society based on the social democratic ideas of justice and equality. The social democratic idea is deeply rooted in the Norwegian people and is something we will build on. What we have experienced in the last 10-15 years is that our welfare society has been put under tremendous pressure, and that equality values ​​are being pushed in favor of selfishness.

Bård Vegar Solhjell emphasizes that the community he is talking about is not a society where everyone should be equal.

- We must find a variant of values ​​that applies to everyone. Everyone shall have equal rights, at the same time as there shall be room for personal expression for the individual. Examples are kindergartens and schools. It is very important that we have an equal offer for all children in Norway, but the kindergarten and school must at the same time see the individual's needs and facilitate and adapt the offer to the individual.

- But will you be able to offer fair offers everywhere in society, at the same time as the individual will have their needs covered?

- Building a society of justice is a great challenge. But with the social democratic thinking from the post-war period into the sixties as a cornerstone, we have a solid foundation to build on. We must also be able to reverse the setbacks of the last 15 years. I imagine that we can transfer the idea of ​​justice to all parts of society. The services for the elderly and sick, the home services, in planning and construction, and also in culture. I also envisage people being offered good public services in areas such as physical exercise, an area that the whole community benefits from. The basic idea is that everyone should have the same opportunity, and the most important thing is that we focus on free offers in the public sector.

SV will also in the future be a party where we have room for the individualists, while also being an anti-authoritarian party. You can say that the party I want to see in the future is an SV that takes the best from classical socialism and the best from modern individualism.

The democratization

Solhjell indicates that Norway is a relatively good and well-functioning society. But he records some currents that could be dangerous to democracy.

- In recent years, we have seen a tendency for party politics to lose interest among the people. The interest and commitment in many individual cases is great, but party politics does not engage. The parties are losing members and participation in elections is also declining. Confidence in politicians and parties is low.

- But what can you and others in the parties do?

- The development today is in the direction of shifting power from the elected bodies to the private actors. Thus, the people lose the opportunity to influence their everyday lives. We must take back power to the elected bodies. We must have more people involved in the democratic processes. One proposal is to give 16-year-olds the right to vote and get young people more involved in politics. We need a more direct democracy, and I am convinced that we can increase interest and engagement among people if we add a number of decisions to a local plan where people in direct elections can say yes or no to proposals.

- What could this be?

- A proposal can be participatory budgeting. This means that the inhabitants have the opportunity to directly influence the municipality's budget. Another possibility is a citizens' initiative, where the citizens can demand changes by organizing. Oslo has such a scheme, but it is only indicative for politicians. I can imagine that such initiatives can have a more direct impact. Countries such as Austria and Switzerland have interesting schemes we can take a closer look at, and in Latin America there are several exciting projects that we can learn from.

People get involved, but it is difficult to channel this engagement into the political channels so that the engagement produces visible results.

Another area that I think needs to be developed is economic democracy. This has been silent for decades. Here, I am thinking, among other things, of employees' opportunities to exert influence on their workplace and on the ownership of their own workplace. For many years, we have had a scheme where employees get one or more representatives into the company's board of directors. This caused a lot of skepticism at first, but today no one is afraid to let the employees be represented on the boards.

Bård Vegar Solhjell wants a democratization of business ownership.

- We need to do something about the company form. Public ownership in Norway should soon democratize its ownership. The goal of democratization is that everyone should be able to participate and everyone should be able to have an opportunity to influence public ownership. I also believe that we who live in this country should be able to exercise our influence on private ownership. For it is not the case that private ownership would have survived without the public sector having provided knowledge and resources so that, among other things, the infrastructure could be expanded. We are mutually dependent on each other, and it should therefore be possible for everyone to have the opportunity to influence.


Solhjell is keen to make it clear what our society will live on in the future.

- Globalization has meant that our society is changing rapidly, and we must find out what we as a society will live on in the future. Goods and services can today be offered anywhere in the world. It has become much easier to sell goods and services from low-cost countries to, for example, Norway. The raw materials are sent where it is most reasonable to produce the finished goods. A good example of services that can be offered today from anywhere in the world are telephone services. You can call a company that you think is in Oslo, and then there is a switchboard in India that receives your phone. We are faced with a choice whether to fight against globalization or find our place.

- What are we going to do as a nation?

- We can not fight with labor costs in most countries in the world. Therefore, we need to find out what our advantages are. Society must be built around our advantages, which include a highly educated population that can develop to be the best in some areas. By looking at what the Norwegian shipbuilding industry has achieved, we can get a good picture of what we can focus on. We used to be among the world's best shipbuilders. But then came other nations such as Poland, which could build ships much faster and at a cheaper price than the Norwegian shipyard could. Then we had a crisis in this industry, but they have managed to turn the crisis into something positive. Today, the hulls are built in other countries, towed to Norway where the shipyards are ready with their cutting-edge expertise in equipment and completion of the ships. We have strong environments in technology that can offer the best in interiors and equipment for new boats. The solution here was to let others do what they could, while only competing for the services we are among the best at.

The shipbuilding industry is a good example of how important knowledge is. If we are to secure the welfare state and develop it into an even better system, then we must focus on knowledge, education and research.

- Are there any areas we should focus on in particular?

- We have a high level of expertise in petrochemicals and environmental technology. Environmental technology is an area we should invest significantly in. If we absolutely have to pump up oil and gas, then we must use this in a better way and ensure that we do not pollute the environment. We should be able to build knowledge and jobs in renewable energy. We have the knowledge, but lack the will. The Danes have built themselves up to be a world leader in wind technology.

We must move away from the current business-neutral policy, and instead actively use the political means we have to develop IT and environmental technology in this country. We have to decide and focus on a few areas where we want to be the best, and where we have the opportunity to be the best. Therefore, we must focus on what requires a lot of knowledge, rather than what requires many jobs – or as they have done in the shipbuilding industry: to focus on high technology instead of building hulls.

The role of Norway

Bård Vegar Solhjell says that it is not difficult to understand many of the arguments during the Cold War that it was important to have a clear role in relation to both the United States and the United Kingdom.

- But it is incomprehensible that there are still people today who believe that the situation is the same. Major changes have taken place, and we must take them into account in our contact with the outside world. Today we are not in a situation where we have to choose between east and west. Today we have other challenges, and there poverty and the situation in the third world are much more important than if we follow the United States in one and all.

We have to make our own standpoints, and we have to take on a more independent role in which we decide ourselves when we follow the United States and when we do not. Today, the US political line makes us more insecure in Norway, because our government supports the Bush regime. With today's policy, Norway is becoming a terror target, and our soldiers on missions in other countries are more prone to actions because we so strongly support the United States.

We must work for a redistribution, and we will have a self-interest in having our own views and showing independence in relation to the United States.

- What areas in foreign policy do you envisage Norway focusing on?

- We can not participate in everything that happens. Therefore, we should focus on what is important to us, and where we can contribute. We should continue to develop the role of peace mediator that we have had in several conflicts. Therefore, it is also important that Norway is perceived as an independent nation that stands for its own policy. We should also to a greater extent work together with countries in the third world to get a good development of the societies started. Here it is important that Norway takes sides with the third world in many international forums, including the World Trade Organization and the UN.

We will also offer to provide forces in areas that need stabilization, but this will only be done through the UN mandate.

In our neighboring areas, Northern Territory policy will be very important in the future. That is why we need to get this in as quickly as possible as an important investment in Norwegian foreign policy. Here we face many challenges, where we must find good solutions with all our neighbors in the north. Both the United States, Canada and Russia are important here, and we depend on good relations with these neighbors related to the Northern Territory policy.

- But are we going to join the EU to achieve this?

- I believe that Norway should not become a member of the EU. Cross-border co-operation is important, but the EU is not the model that will suit Norway.

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