One Big Misunderstanding about Norway’s Election Results
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International media introduced the election results in Norway stressing on anti-immigration party’s success accompanied with Breivik photos. But is the election result a victory for anti-immigration camp in the country? Or is it Norwegian people’s reaction to so-called failing multiculturalism?
First of all, it should be clarified that classic "right wing" term does not fit well for Norway’s prospective coalition quadro. The biggest of the four parties which will probably make up the government, Conservatives (Høyre) is a more liberal party than a typical right-wing anti-immigrant party. The party has constructed its election campaign on promise of better roads, shorter hospital queues, better health and education system, and less taxation for private enterprises. With all these policy priorities, Høyre is known as a business friendly and liberal bourgeois party.
The other member of the four, Christian Democrats (KrF) follows their European counterparts in many ways. As a party centered on Christian values, the party obviously draws support from the Christian population. But KrF has a considerable level of support among the Muslim minority in Norway, pointing to their social policies.
One of the most interesting parties in the group is Venstre (Liberals). Venstre is a liberal, even a social liberal political party. The party is the oldest in the country, and has enacted reforms such as parliamentarism, freedom of religion, universal suffrage and free education.
As for the fourth party in the possible coalition- Progress Party (FrP), or as superficially named by international media: Breivik’s Party, many describes it as a right-wing populist party. The party highly supports the downsizing of bureaucracy and an increased market economy; however, it also supports an increased use of the uniquely Norwegian Oil Fund to invest in infrastructure. But FrP’s most prominent feature is its fierce anti-immigration rhetoric demanding a more restrictive immigration policy and tougher integration and law and order measures.
But it is important to note that the seemingly most anti-immigrant and "right-wing" party FrP is the party which lost most seats and vote in this election. Even though, the party was the second biggest one in Stortinget (Norwegian Parliement) in the last election, they could come third this time with 12 less seats and 6,6 percentage point lose.
At this point, it is necessary to point out the change in political landscape of Norway after 22 July tragedy. Majority of Norwegian people reacted fiercely against extreme divisive and old-fashioned anti-immigrant rhetoric just after Breivik’s terrorist attacks. As a result, FrP dramatically lost its votes to Høyre and other liberal conservative parties in the aftermath of the tragedy. That is the reason why almost all political parties from both wings avoided from cynical and futile multiculturalism debates in their campaigns compared to the previous terms. Instead, they went for more concrete policy areas such as transportation, health service and taxation.
This clear message from Norwegian voters accompanying the oppositional balance of the country’s largest party, Labor will have a pressure on all the parties to resort to radical changes in social policies.
So, simplistically degrading all election results to “victory of Brevik’s party” and uprising of “right wing” is not only a shallow journalistic and intellectual approach but also an insult to millions of sensible Norwegian people.