Solberg Gate: The Police Were Never Intended to Be Responsible for Democracy Itself

Sindre Finnes, John Kerry og Erna Solberg.
Erna Solberg (Right) places her fate in the hands of her own party colleagues, possibly also in the hands of the police. Here from a visit to the White House when she was prime minister in 2016, with then MFA John Kerry and her husband, Sindre Finnes. (Photo: US State Department)

Commentary: The Nordic democracies are under pressure. In Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, they are challenged by far-right parties. In Sweden, they are also challenged by fatal gang conflicts. In Norway, the attacks are coming from the political establishment.

Norsk versjon

Since the government parties, the Right Party and the Labor Party, have recruited advanced stock speculators into their respective governments, they are cut off from meaningful participation in the debate about the democracy challenges following in the wake of the media revelations. 

The latest news involves former PM Erna Solberg's home office and how it might have been a hidden, and maybe even illegal, casino.

While the pandemic ravaged

While the pandemic closed kindergartens and schools and health personnel worked with the taste of blood in their mouths, a wild fight against the stock market occurred in the prime minister's residence. Several times a day, Solberg's husband bet on the development of listed companies at the mercy of the government's political decisions while teachers and nurses fought hopelessly against time.

Not unlike the former Minister of Education and Research, Ola Borten Moe of the Støre government, who speculated in the arms industry while the government-financed arms aid to Ukraine.

The prime minister's residence was a hidden casino.

In a recent survey from the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, the strengths and weaknesses of the Norwegian democracy are analyzed. An obvious but unavoidable weakness of the survey is that it does not pick up on the consequences of possible illegal inside trade, with a penalty of up to six years of prison, or the lack of conflict of interest assessments, which could render political decisions invalid.

Democratic dangers

Yet, the survey says something about what such issues may mean for a democracy in a time of crisis.

After stating the obvious and familiar – that the Norwegian democracy is one of the best in the world – a few vulnerabilities are pointed out.

Firstly, "citizens perceive power abuse and corruption to be widespread, perhaps especially at a local level." 

Secondly, economic inequality is a source of democratic deficit. Or, as the report says, "practices that allow wealthy citizens to exercise disproportionate influence."

The stock speculation in the middle of politics, the lack of control of conflicts of interest, and possible illegal inside trade hit these vulnerable points of our democracy with a bang. There is also good reason to believe that the report would have reinforced the message if it had been updated. The report does not mention conflicts of interest as a challenge.

For those who remember the Watergate scandal and President Nixon's attempt to play ignorant of the Republican Party's break-in at the Democrats, Erna Solberg's performance reads like a replica. Nixon's only defense was that he was unaware of the break-in.

As if the obvious needed more rules.

Nixon's emotional life

Nixon lost in the end. Watergate differs from Solberg Gate in a few areas: journalists did not call for Richard Nixon's emotional life. How he felt. Or how his family was doing.

While the Labor Party and the Right Party are left out of the debate, we are offered political emotions and constant revelations in the tone-setting media. 

Erna Solberg has turned the matter into a question of trust from her party while concurrently constructing various models for a possible future babysitter for her husband's trading if she is to move into the prime minister's residence after the next election. 

A clean-up is once needed in the Storting.

Everything is essentially as before, where the lawmakers and the political leaders come running after the scandals with yet another rule, whether it regards commuter accommodation, travel bills, or stock trading. 

The Right is to decide

As if the obvious needed more rules to be followed.

The obvious needs backbone, ethics, and respect for the rules already in place and promises given.

The Nordic democracies are increasingly lonely in a world where authoritarianism and dictatorship are on the rise. Therefore, democracy must be protected.

Erna Solberg announced that she will remain the party leader and the prime minister candidate as long as she has the trust of her own people, with a possible exception for revelations that may come from the police.

The police are a necessary part of a functioning democracy.

But the police were never intended to be responsible for democracy itself. 

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