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Norway: Parliamentary elections. Mr Rossiné (Diocese of Oslo), “taxation, immigration, devolution – most debated topics”, but “nostalgia for higher level of discussion”

The political future is uncertain in Norway four days before the general elections for the renewal of Parliament, with the two most-voted parties in 2013 (the Labour Party with 30% of votes and the Conservatives with 26% but then the leading party in the government) neck-and-neck in opinion polls amidst much confusion. Indeed, opinion polls cannot predict whether there will be a change at the helm of the country or the Conservatives will remain in power. The climate is “tense” and “people cannot wait to know the outcome of the elections”. In an interview with SIR news agency, Hans Rossiné, Head of Communications at the Diocese of Oslo, provides a detailed picture of the pre-electoral debate. Discussion focused mainly on the topics of “taxation, immigration, and devolution”: the Conservatives pledged not to raise taxes whereas the Labour Party wants to change taxation rules to fund “healthcare, education and elderly care”; the immigration debate (which brought 31,000 asylum seekers to Norway in 2015 out of a population of 5.3 million) was skewed with rhetoric, with the government accused by the Labour leader of “having made Norway a colder place” since its tighter immigration policy has actually stopped the flows. There was no talk about the EU which is “too controversial a topic”. Another topic was oil exploitation which some would like to continue in the north of the country while others would like to stop for reasons relating both to environmental issues and to factors such as changes in the price of oil over the coming years and the speed of a technological switch from fossil fuels to alternative sources. The pre-electoral debate has been “very populistic and simplistic”; it has not addressed fundamental political issues such as “the future prospects for Norway in the years to come, what values we would like to embody in our society, what will production look like after 30 years of oil bonanza, and how to respond to the climate or migration crises, to globalisation or to international challenges”. Indeed, there is “nostalgia for a higher level of discussion”.

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