Archive for August, 2009

Another poll gives lead to the left – Red hold balance of power

August 29, 2009

Another poll is out today, this time for Dagbladet and NRK. Here both the Socialist Left and Conservatives continue their upward trend and the Progress Party remain at a low level compared to where they’ve been in the polls for most of the the last 3 or 4 years. The Red party’s support is also up and according to this poll they would get 2 seats, giving them the balance of power between the current coalition which would get 84 seats and the non-socialist parties who would get 83. A continued Red-Green government having to rely on the Red party for a majority would be an ideal scenario as far as I’m concerned although according to Dagbladet Socialist Left leader Kristin Halvorsen won’t consider the possibility because what the government should be doling is focussing on getting a majority for themselves. In the article Halvorsen also puts her party’s rising support down to their strong position against drilling in Lofoten and the large amount of focus which has been given to environmental issues during the campaign. According to this poll the SV will meet their target of 10% support or more (as opposed to the 8.8% they received last time).

Labour (Ap) – 32.3% (-0.7)

Progress Party (Frp) – 22.1% (+0.1)

Conservatives (H) – 15.0% (+0.6)

Socialist Left (SV) – 10.4% (+0.5)

Centre Party (Sp) – 5.7% (-0.5)

Christian People’s Party (KrF) – 5.7% (-0.4)

Liberals (V) – 4.7% (-0.4)

Red (R) – 2.3% (+1.0)

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Red-Green victory according to TV2

August 28, 2009

According to TV2’s new poll the 4 parties of the left will receive a majority of 5 seats with 86 seats going to the current governing coalition, 1 seat going to the Red party and 82 seats going to the non-socialist parties. The party to gain the most in this poll is again the Socialist Left party while the Progress Party have lost support and are on a level not much higher than the 22% they received last time. The Conservatives will do a good bit better here than according to NRK’s last poll, meaning that a Conservative/Liberal/Christian People’s party coalition would be just as strong as a Conservative/Progress Party one.

Labour (Ap) – 33.0% (-0.9)

Progress Party (Frp) – 23.5% (-1.3)

Conservatives (H) – 14.6% (+1.4)

Socialist Left (SV) – 8.5% (+1.8)

Christian People’s Party (KrF) – 6.3% (-0.1)

Centre Party (Sp) – 5.9% (-0.9)

Liberals (V) – 5.1% (-0.3)

Red (R) – 2.0% (-0.7)

Fundamentalist Christians – ban gay marriage, support Israel and kick out Jens

August 19, 2009

I put Visjon Norge (a fundamentalist Christian TV channel) on for a laugh a few hours ago. Before some American nutter came on – who thinks that cancer is a punishment from God – it was Jan Hanvold speaking about the election, appealing to all Christians to use their vote. Because if they don’t they’re apparently committing a dreadful sin against God. Referring to a headline in the papers saying that immigrants can decide the election (with him making some jokes about the sinful Muslims out there who they all need to pray for), he claimed that it is in fact Christians who have the power to decide. They are the ones who can overthrow the heathen government of Jens Stoltenberg and bring back some Christian morality to their country.

Referring back to the Muslims he treated us all to the amusing, if not a little disturbing, claim that Bush has done a great job in Iraq. How? Because in his victory he showed Muslims that the Christian God is stronger than theirs and apparently as a result millions of them are now believing in Jesus. So I suppose that should give you a little insight into the minds of people like Jan Hanvold.

Anyway today (Wednesday) also marks the launch of Kristenfolket some group/website which aims to help Christians influence the political process and to tell them what party or candidate they should vote for. The latter should be decided in their view based on 5 questions:

1. Will they abolish the gay marriage law?
2. What do they think on assisted suicide?
3. Do they want the Norwegian embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
4. Do they support Israel’s ‘security fence’?
5. Will they do everything possible to ensure a non-socialist majority means a non-socialist government?

Naturally the candidates of the three red-green coalition parties are ignored but voters get the opportunity to choose between the Christian People’s Party, Progress Party, Conservatives, Liberals, Coast Party and the Christian Unity Party.

Among the main parties most candidates for the Christian People’s Party and Progress Party say they support banning gay marriage while almost all Conservatives and Liberals think the current law should remain in place. Only a few candidates from the Progress Party say yes to assisted suicide while all others reject it. On the Israel questions again the Progress Party and KrF are on one side, with most of their candidates answering yes to both questions, while most Liberals and Conservatives are on the other. On the last question the candidates who most consistently say yes are from the Conservatives while those from the other parties who answered are divided (except from the Liberals who all say no).

Last week on Dagsrevyen they interviewed someone from a fundamentalist newspaper who was expressing the complaints of many other extreme Christians who think the Christian People’s Party is letting down its Christian principles. The reason is that they’re saying too much about poverty, foreign aid and the environment and not enough about the evils of gay marriage and the wonders of the state of Israel (as a result many will now vote for the Progress Party). Somehow I think that Jesus himself may have been more concerned about the former, but then I’m not a Christian so I suppose I’ll have to leave it up to people like Jan Hanvold to decide what matters the most.

Who should I vote for? (NRK)

August 19, 2009

I’ve now taken NRK’s test for the election and again aren’t particularly surprised by the results (although apparently the tests can produce confusing results such as the farmer-hating Marxist Erling Lægreid refers to on Dagsnytt 18 who was recommended to vote for the Centre Party):

Red (R) – 93%
Socialist Left (SV) – 84%
Centre Party (Sp) – 36%
Labour (Ap) – 30%
Liberals (V) – 25%
Christian People’s Party (KrF) – 20%
Conservatives (H) – 9%
Progress Party (Frp) – 3%

http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/innenriks/valg/valg_2009/1.6731848

Again for those who don’t understand Norwegian I’ve translated the questions in order on each of the 6 pages. Choose a point between helt enig (fully agree) and helt uenig (fully disagree).

Page 1

Private hospitals and care services should be equal in status to the public
Hospitals should be fewer in number and larger in size
Individual fees for healthcare should be abolished
Private schools must be allowed
Schools should maintain national tests

Page 2

The Christian aims paragraph should be maintained for schools and nurseries
Heterosexuals and homosexuals should both have the same marriage law
Christianity should have a special position in the Norwegian state
Kontantstøtte (financial contribution to stay at home parents) should be phased out
High incomes should be taxed harder

Page 3

Wealth tax and inheritance tax should be abolished
Businesses should have a lower tax burden
Norway should be a member of the EU
Norway should reduce its support to Palestinians in the Middle East conflict
Norway must pull its soldiers out of Afghanistan

Page 4

There should be opened for increased immigration into Norway
Norway should take in more UN refugees
There should be greater requirements for language and knowledge in gaining citizenship
There should be opened for oil drilling in Lofoten and Vesterålen
Norwegian companies must abide by tougher environmental regulations

Page 5

There should be free public transport in large towns
The state should be an important owner within the Norwegian economy
Town and country must have equal public services even if it costs money
Forcible measures should be used to merge Norwegian municipalities
Norwegian agriculture must to a greater degree be shielded from competition

Page 6

The convicted should more often be given alternatives to prison sentences
Alcohol policies should be stricter (licensing hours and sale)
The police should continue to be unarmed in daily service

Then choose up to three areas that are most important to you: skatt og avgifter (taxes and fees), helse og eldreomsorg (health and elderly care), miljø (environment), distriktspolitikk (local/rural issues), kriminalpolitikk (crime), innvandringspolitikk (immigration), skoler og barnehage (schools and nurseries), religion og moral (religion and morals), utenrikspolitikk/EU (foreign policy/the EU), offentlig kontra privat (public versus private).

Socialist Left gains support in new poll

August 18, 2009

sv

In today’s poll for NRK the Socialist Left party have made considerable gains, going from 7.1% to 9.2% (their best result in any NRK poll since the election in 2005) while Labour and Centre Party have fallen slightly. According to this poll the Red party have lost most of their support, falling from 1.2% to just 0.3%. Overall the parties of the left have 47.5% while the non-socialist parties have 50.9%. The full details are:

Labour (Ap) – 32.7% (-0.2)

Progress Party (Frp) – 27.5% (-0.7)

Conservatives (H) – 11.1% (-0.2)

Socialist Left (SV) – 9.2% (+2.1)

Christian People’s Party (KrF) – 6.3% (-0.4)

Liberals (V) – 6.2% (+1.4)

Centre Party (Sp) – 5.3% (-0.7)

Red (R) – 0.3% (-1.2)

The projected seat distribution from the poll gives the right 88 seats and the left 81.

According to SV leader Kristin Halvorsen: “It is one of many polls, but it shows that there is much enthusiasm for the red-green cooperation and that the SV is an important part here.” She thinks it is positive that for the first time the SV has gone into an election as part of the government: “For the first time we’re going into an election with something to show. Those who are concerned about children and the young know that we have fought for the childcare reform in which we have reached the goals that we set out”.

According to NRK’s commentator Kyrre Nakkim the recent oil leak off Telemark has helped the SV due to their strong environmentalist credentials. In his view the campaign has been concerned with many typical SV issues. First there was billionaire Stein Erik Hagen’s decision to transfer his company to Switzerland to avoid paying taxes and then there was the oil tragedy at Langesund. However the SV shouldn’t take it for granted that the rest of the campaign will handle on these issues he warns.

First election debate – Kristiansand

August 17, 2009

I’ve just watched the first of many election debates to be shown on Norwegian TV, today’s being filmed in the southern city of Kristiansand for NRK before quite a large audience with all the seven leaders of the parliamentary parties taking part. It’s difficult to say if anyone emerged as the winner and I think all of them put across their views ok. Siv Jensen perhaps got the most claps of all but then Kristiansand tends to be quite a conservative place.

Anyway on to what was debated. The three main issues were who will make up the next government, oil in Lofoten and taxation. The leaders were also asked about their visions for the future and which groups they think it’s most important to fight for. To take them one by one:

Next government – Liberal leader Lars Sponheim and Christian People’s Party leader Dagfinn Høybråten again stated that they want a coalition between their two parties and the Conservatives whch can then cooperate with both the left if needs be and Progress Party on the right with Sponheim being particularly clear in saying that he won’t go into a government with the Progress Party. Siv Jensen has also not changed her mind about refusing to give her backing to any government that doesn’t include the Frp while Conservative leader Erna Solberg can’t explain what people will actually get with her party in power (since a coalition between them and the Frp will be quite different from a coalition between them and the Liberals and Christian People’s party).

On the left Labour leader Stoltenberg was clear that he has no plan B, that he intends to win the election together with the Socialist Left and Centre Party and that if the government loses its majority there’ll be a chaotic situation where the non-socialist parties can’t agree on who will rule the country. Many have said that the mostly likely option will in fact be a Labour minority government but understandably Stoltenberg doesn’t want people thinking that they’ll get Labour no matter what and that there’s therefore no point in voting.

Oil in Lofoten and Vesterålen – Jens Stoltenberg has again refused to take a stance on the issue, emphasising that Labour was right in deciding to wait until 2010 after more research has been done into the suitability of oil drilling in the area. Socialist Left leader Kristin Halvorsen and Centre Party leader Liv Signe Navarsete repeated their strong opposition to any drilling on environmental grounds but refused to give any assurances on not entering any government that agrees to go in for it.

Both the Progress Party and Conservative leaders were firm in their support for oil drilling which they believe is best for economic development in the north while the Liberals and Christian People’s party were completely opposed to it. Halvorsen asked how the Liberals can reconcile their ultimatum not go into any government that opens for oil drilling in Lofoten with their desire to participate in a new non-socialist government with the Conservatives.

Taxation – Progress Party leader Siv Jensen opened the debate on taxation by saying clearly that she wants to introduce large tax cuts for everyone but particularly those on low and middle incomes (which doesn’t tie in with statistics released by the SV several weeks ago revealing that almost all of the Frp’s proposed tax cuts would go to the rich).  She called for wealth tax to be abolished claiming it affects poor pensioners (when in actual fact the government government has abolished wealth tax for hundreds of thousands of less well off Norwegians) and attacked inheritance tax as a tax on grief. She then claimed that Norway wastes huge amounts of money on corrupt African regimes and on bringing huge numbers of asylum seekers into the country – which received enthustiastic claps from a large section of the audience.

Jens Stoltenberg who spoke next challenged her on where she would get all the money from to make such huge cuts, pointing out that the Frp continually comes out with new policies here and there which all cost billions while never explaining how they’re going to pay for them. Jensen explained that cuts in aid, administrative saving from abolishing counties and merging communes and abandoning the proposed high speed rail network would be just some of the ways they could free money for both tax cuts and better public services. According to Stoltenberg though they won’t save nearly as much as they plan to spend and that lower taxes will mean poorer public services like in Oslo where the Progress party are currently part of the council’s ruling coalition.

Sponheim from the Liberals and Høybråten from the Christian People’s Party both said that large tax cuts will harm public services and that any cuts should instead be smaller and targetted at helping companies to create and maintain secure jobs. Dagfin Høybråten attacked the Progress Party on foreign aid saying he’ll never support cuts that will mean less medicines to children in Africa and less investment in education in poor countries. Conservative leader Erna Solberg while not proposing as large tax cuts as the Progress Party clearly attacked wealth tax as taking money out of companies and threatening jobs in Norway. She also said that Norwegians are intelligent enough to spend their money sensibly by themselves and that too much goes to the state.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg then pointed out that the current socialist Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen has cut more taxes for the less well off than the previous right-wing administration (abolishing wealth tax for hundreds of thousands of people) but that overall tax levels must remain the same if public services aren’t to be affected. Halvorsen herself pointed out that Norway as one of the few countries that still has wealth tax has done far better than almost any other country during the recent financial crisis. Abolishing wealth and inheritance tax will take away 12 billion kroner from public services – a similar amount to that it has cost to introduce universal childcare in the last few years – and will end the concept of a society where everyone pays their fair share. She says she’s proud though that many pensioners and poorer people are paying less.

Groups to fight for – I missed what Sponheim said but Navarsete (of the Centre Party) unsurprisingly chose those who live in rural areas with it being necessary to reduce the distance between them and where power lies. Dagfinn Høybråten said parents of small children while both Halvorsen and Solberg said children and the young who are the country’s future. To Jensen the elderly are the most important while to Stoltenberg it’s important that the Labour slogan ‘alle skal med‘ (everyone will be a part) can be a reality by helping those isolated from society in some way such as drug addicts and the unemployed.

Visions for the future – For Jens Stoltenberg it is a society where everyone has work and is a full participant while Siv Jensen talked about things such as freedom of choice, controlled immigration, freedom from being attacked on the street and good care for the elderly. For Erna Solberg it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to use their talents, that Norway is a creative country and that noone leaves school without being able to read and write. Kristin Halvorsen’s vision is an environmentally friendly country which is less dependent on oil and makes use of its renewable energy, an inclusive society for all young people, a society where everyone has equal opportunities with better childcare and better schools. Also she wants a society which is better for women. Høybråten talked about the importance of a society where everyone is valued and noone is sorted out in some way, either before and after birth. Also a society built on strong families and where everyone, especially the elderly, receives the care they need. Centre Party leader Navarsete wants local societies with flowering workplace, good schools, green workplaces, renewable energy, better roads and a society where everyone is seen and heard. Liberal leader Sponheim wants lower emissions and the climate threat to be tackled. He also wants better railways, an educated society and better care for the elderly.

What the papers are saying:

Dagbladet: http://www.dagbladet.no/2009/08/17/nyheter/valg09/politikk/innenriks/regjeringen/7698762

VG: http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/valg-2009/artikkel.php?artid=570230

Voters clearly prefer Jens and the red-greens

August 17, 2009

Two polls in recent days have revealed that although a majority, when asked which party they intend to vote for, opt for the non-socialist opposition, most Norwegians would rather have Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the current red-green coalition to Progress Party leader Siv Jensen and a coalition of the parties of the right.

Today NRK has released a poll asking people which candidate they would prefer for Prime Minister:

Jens Stoltenberg (Labour) – 42%

Siv Jensen (Progress Party) – 16%

Erna Solberg (Conservatives) – 6%

Other – 8%

Unsure – 29%

And on Saturday another poll for NRK when asking people about which government alternatives they prefer found that 46% would go for the red-green coalition compared to 39% who would rather have a non-socialist government. 15% were unsure. The poll also revealed that women, those in their 40s and people living in Northern Norway are the most enthusiastic supporters of the red-greens.

Part of the problem for the right according to election analysts is that they have no clear alternative coalition to offer. While the centre-left coalition has worked fairly well over the last few years and has been able to set aside many of its internal differences, the parties of the right have been completely unable to agree on a common government. Both the Liberals and Christian People’s Party say they won’t go into any government that includes the Progress Party and the Progress Party say they won’t allow the formation of any centre-right government that doesn’t include them.

As for today’s poll it’s hardly surprising that voters say they prefer Jens Stoltenberg as a person – they have done for a long time. But the enormous gap between the popularity of the two most likely candidates for Prime Minister should nevertheless be concerning for Siv Jensen even if people’s opinions of individual party leaders don’t seem to play too much of a role in Norwegian politics (Socialist Left leader Kristin Halvorsen for example has often came out as the most popular of all the party leaders yet this doesn’t seem to have translated into particularly high support for the SV in recent elections).

The ugly side of Denmark

August 15, 2009

denmark

The Gestapo arrive

Iraqi refugees are on hunger strike in Denmark after police burst into the Copenhagen church on Wednesday night where they’d been seeking shelter for months after their asylum application had been rejected. 17 men (some who have been in the country for as long as 10 years) were brutally dragged out and forced onto a bus while their children, partners, female and elderly relatives looked on in shock. According to Norwegian paper Dagbladet police used batons and pepper spray to disperse protesters who had gathered outside to show their support for the Iraqis and who had attempted to prevent the bus from leaving.

The police raid has been met with condemnation from many progressive Danes with 15,000 people marching through Copenhagen on Friday.  Former social-democratic Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen had this to say:

“I am deeply shocked at the cynicism that seems to have grabbed Danish society… The police raid a church containing mostly innocent people on the same day that the Iraqi prime minister has seriously questioned whether Iraq will accept these refugees. I am deeply shocked when I think of the United Nations reaction at our way of treating these people. We have crossed the line of what is humane and decent.”

The red-green Unity List, Socialist People’s Party and Radical Liberals has also criticised the raid. The Unity List’s Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen has called the raid “reprehensible and sad”:

“It is appalling that the government obviously put the desire to grab votes in Denmark over concern for human life among the Iraqis in Brorson Church. They are willing to use the cover of darkness to pull children from their beds to send them to an uncertain fate in Iraq solely so as to emerge as hardliners in the area of immigration”.

You can see the full speech which she made at Friday’s demo on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkFKN1Xs36Q

However according to a poll carried out on Thursday 60% think the arrests and evictions were justified and only 27% thought the police actions were too harsh. Perhaps not surprising in a country where the right in their last 8 years of power have used every opportunity to whip up racial tensions and crush any degree of human compassion and solidarity while at the same time never missing the opportunity to portray Denmark as an innocent little victim of the big bad evil Muslims who want to destroy freedom of speech and ‘liberal values’ (values which many native Danes by the way seem perfectly happy to ignore when it comes to their country’s treatment of those with a darker colour of skin than themselves, who belong to a different religion or have a name that sounds different to their own).

New poll – 91 seats for the right, 78 for the left

August 14, 2009

A new poll today for Dagens Næringsliv has found a sharp decline in support for the Labour Party while both the Socialist Left and Centre Party have remained relatively unchanged which means a further increase in the predicted gap between the left and right. Yet polls just a day or two ago found the ‘non socialist’ parties with an advantage of just 1 seat so all is not necessarily lost. And with the election campaign just beginning it’s almost impossible to make any reliable predictions, I think, at this stage.

Labour – 31% (-3.7)

Progress Party – 27.6 (-1.5)

Conservatives – 13.8% (+1.3%)

Socialist Left – 7.3% (+0.3)

Liberals – 5.7% (+2.0)

Christian People’s Party – 5.4% (+0.2)

Centre Party – 5.0% (-0.1)

Red – 1.6% (+0.1)

Who should I vote for? (Aftenposten)

August 13, 2009

I’ve just taken Aftenposten’s Valgomat to see which party I would be best advised to vote for if I happened to be a Norwegian citizen. The results aren’t that surprising really:

Socialist Left (SV) – 95%

Red (R) – 92%

Labour (Ap) – 75%

Liberals (V) – 70%

Centre Party (Sp) – 63%

Christian People’s Party (KrF) – 62%

Conservatives (H) – 20%

Progress Party (Frp) – 8%

I’ll translate the questions in case anyone else wants to take it and doesn’t understand Norwegian.

http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/politikk/article3191988.ece

Go to start then choose gender, income level, age and county.

Then move on to the questions. Options are helt uenig (fully disagree), uenig (disagree), hverken eller (either or), enig (agree) and helt enig (fully agree). Underneath is “How important is this issue?”. Choose either mindre viktig (less important), viktig (important) or svært viktig (very important).

1. Norway should be a member of the EU.

2. Aid to developing countries should continue to increase.

3. Norwegian forces should be pulled out of Afghanistan.

4. It is important that Norway has a good relationship with NATO.

5. Norway should rather support Israel than the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict.

6. The reasons for climate change are so disputed that we shouldn’t introduce measures that affect ordinary peope.

7. We should open for oil extraction in Lofoten and Vesterålen now.

8. National politicians should ensure a sustainable wolf population in the countryside.

9. It is important to protect more Norwegian forests.

10. The school day should be increased to a full day school.

11. 5 year olds should participate in the offer of pedagogic pre-school teaching.

12. Testing should be introduced also in primary school.

13. Results from national tests should be made public.

14. It should be easier to start private schools in Norway.

15.  Kontantstøtte (financial support for stay at home parents) should be phased out.

16. All private nurseries should be taken over by the public sector.

17. Maximum childcare costs should be further reduced.

18. An increased part of parental leave should be reserved for the father.

19. Married lesbian couples should receive help to make babies in Norwegian hospitals.

20. Taxes and fees are much too high in Norway.

21. Private firms should to an increasing extent have a chance to run care services for the elderly.

22. Capitalists have too much influence in Norway.

23. It is important to subsidise agriculture to maintain population settlement in rural Norway.

24. Women should to a greater extent than today be able to decide when they want to have an abortion.

25. The number of municipalities in Norway should be reduced – by force in necessary.

26.  There should be greater investment in public transport compared to new motorways.

27. Public support to artists, opera and theatre should be reduced.

28. Norwegian asylum and immigration policies are too strict.

29. Even if we break international agreements Mullah Kreker should be quickly deported from the country.