Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Norwegians are not easily influenced

Though Siv Jensen's anti-immigration and, therefore, described as right-wing extremist by some, notably the BBC, party lost in the local elections, nobody seems to think this has anything to do with Anders Behring Breivik, who ceased to be a member in 2006.

The government Labour party, who was supposed to garner the sympathy vote did not do much better than before going up by 1.9 per cent to 31.6 per cent.
According to observers, the Progress Party's decline was not directly linked to its former ties with the killer. The party had vehemently distanced itself from him, and had already seen its support fall prior to the attacks.

The party was hit in early 2011 by a sex scandal that was badly handled by the party leadership, according to political commentators. It then had to tone down much of its anti-immigration rhetoric during the election campaign.

Compared to its score in the 2009 general elections, the party received half the amount of support.

The setback "is largely explained by the fact that we had a very difficult year where we did not have a lot of opportunities to talk about our politics," party leader Siv Jensen told daily VG.
And the Norwegians refused to heed the call to turn out en masse to show that democracy flourishes in the country despite the horror of the twin attack in July. Then again, 62.6 per cent in local elections would be considered en masse here.
"After the national tragedy this summer, this election became a sort of referendum on our democracy which was supposed to translate into a strong mobilisation among voters," said Harald Stanghelle, a political commentator for Norway's newspaper of reference Aftenposten.

"This was not the case. I'm surprised and saddened," he told AFP.

Voter turnout came in at 62.6 percent, just above the 61.7 percent registered four years ago.

Others said they saw instead positive signs that Norway's democracy was not easily influenced one way or the other by the twin attacks.

"It's good that an unscrupulous child killer can have such a minimal effect on the political landscape," said Tore Gjerstad, a political correspondent for financial daily Dagens Naerinsgliv.
Quite so. Nevertheless, it is regrettable that the Progress Party should be losing support. I thought its leader rather impressive.

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