Arne O. Holm says When the Young Are Excluded

Sannhets- og forsoningskommisjonen
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has hardly asked young people what it takes to create trust and reconciliation. (Photo: the Norwegian Storting)

Commentary: Our age decides our influence on policy-making. In Norway, we are nearing retirement before we are heard in crucial matters. That could be fatal for the nation.

I am not thinking about political influence through ballots at this year's local election or the general election in about two years. Here, the ballots are equal as long as you are old enough to vote.

This is about challenges flanking the official election campaign, but which will nevertheless affect us for a long time.

Two examples:

Truth and reconciliation

In June, the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission handed over 700 pitch-black pages to the Norwegian parliament. Pitch-plack, because the personal stories of Norwegianization and abuse against Sami, Kven, and the Forest Finns make a strong impression on the reader.

In the next round, the stories will determine which measures are necessary to create trust and reconciliation in a divided population.

Here, the commission fails, which is itself aware of the problem. Only four percent of those who have told their stories are under 30. Forty-three percent are older than 67. When the commission proposes conciliatory measures, it knows little or nothing about how the new generation of indigenous people, whether they are Sami, Kven, or Forest Finns, perceive the situation. Or what measures they want.

The commission fails this and they know it.

The young voices are also excluded from a completely different area of politics.

No to the EU

In 1994, a slight majority of Norwegians said no to the EU. Since then, the EU has gained increasing importance within most areas of politics. Not least, this applies to climate issues, where the EU, in sum, is way ahead of Norway.

Russia's war against Ukraine has strengthened the EU's significance for Ukraine's ability to defend itself. The EU's role will become even more clear if Donald Trump were to be chosen as the US president, whether he is in prison or not. Trump, and several of his key supporters, refuse to give any guarantee of support for Ukraine after a possible election victory.

In these processes, the current Norwegian government is a guarantor for Norway to continue sitting in the EU hallway. The Center Party ensures that.

Everyone under 47 are excluded.

Even an ongoing war in Europe, a climate crisis, and a possible criminal and strongly nationalistic American president are not enough to open up a debate about Norway's relation to the EU. This excludes everyone who gained the right to vote after 1994, everyone under 47 years old.


Polls about the EU are almost meaningless as long as we are not having a debate about the EU. I still notice polls showing a clear majority for the EU among young people under 30.

For the High North, dealing with conflicts built on ethnicity, the climate crisis, a belligerent and barbaric neighboring country, and an American president without a moral compass is decisive for our future.

Therefore, we must let the young be decisive for our future.

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