Arne O. Holm says The Norwegian Election: A Political Landscape With No Room for the Extreme Right

Johan Larsen utenfor familiebedriften
The fisheries are on of the industries that will come to a halt if immigration stops. (Photo: Hilde-Gunn Bye)

Commentary: On Monday, municipal and county council elections are held in Norway after an election campaign in stark contrast to the development in the US and the rest of Europe. The absence, not least in the North, of right-wing radical movements is striking.

It is a local election, i.e., on a municipal and county level, but not without national contributions. The ever-growing Norwegian oil fund has had its life extended after Russia went to war against Ukraine.

Extended because the industrialized world needs more energy than ever. And because the public consumption is getting higher and higher. The demand to phase out oil production to reach the UN's climate goals has almost died down.

An inexhaustible source

Instead, Norwegian oil revenues are an almost inexhaustible source to carry out and reverse costly reforms, in addition to investments that were hardly imaginable just a few years ago.

In the North, that involves significant investments in infrastructure for transport and energy, free ferry transportation, and free childcare, among other things.

Almost as a display of wealth, previous reforms are exchanged for shiny coins. New geographic structures are reversed back to the Stone Age. New police stations are popping up in the "back of beyond."

Almost as a display of wealth.

It is nearly impossible to find any white elephants that are not to be thrown money at. The initiatives from the government parties are so massive that only nickels and dimes are left for the oppositional parties.

Except for one field. It is a field in which it is impossible to pay your way out of the problem.

The health sector lacks people. They are not alone in that. The entirety of Northern Norway lacks people. But within the health sector, demographic development tells us that we are facing a forewarned crisis.

Norway does not follow

At the same time, this is one of the explanations for why Norway is not seeing the European rise of right-wing radical parties, a movement where the most critical pillar is poorly hidden, if hidden at all, racism and the fight against immigration.

Immigration is to blame for everything: financial crises, climate, and crime.

But for Northern Norway, immigration is the only solution to a healthcare system that is being flooded by elderly people while concurrently being emptied of staff.

In other Arctic states, immigration is the real problem if we are to believe the arguments of an ever-growing right-wing radical extremism. We will not. Believe them, I mean.

The worst of it can be found in the US, of course, where the very incarnation of conspiracy and right-wing radicalism, Donald Trump, could end up in the presidential seat if he does not end up in prison.

In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats are proliferating. The same thing is happening in Finland, with the Finns Party and the Danish Democrats and Danish People's Party in Denmark.

All shades

All shades of right-wing radicalism can be found in the rest of Europe. Not just in the form of the emergence of new political parties but also because established parties reorient themselves and pick up demagogic and rhetorical arguments from the extreme right.

Immigration is blamed for everything.

Even the French President, Emmanuel Macron, has adopted the language and explanations of the right-wing radicals when describing developments in France.

But not in Norway.

Admittedly, the Progress Party is likely to have good results, but the party differs in significant areas from the far-right. The Center Party, a strong global cooperation opponent, will see poor outcomes.

One of the explanations, especially in the north, is an almost unanimous recognition that the region will stop if immigration stops.

High North News' recent reports on the businesses along the coast show that the fear of immigrants going home is greater than the opposite. The health sector is also utterly dependent on immigration to care for an imminent increase in elderly people.

Kept running

Already, the fisheries and the health sector are kept running by immigrants. Perhaps the foremost explanation is that those who want an election campaign characterized by xenophobia and fascism cannot find a foothold in the north.

The opinion polls indicate significant changes in municipal and county councils.

But for the voters, the changes will likely be significant.

The election is a power struggle.

More than that, it is a battle about what the power should be used for.

Also read

This commentary was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.