Tag Archives: Norway

The Norwegian elections and the aftermath

The Norwegian election bucked the trend that we are seeing in Europe these days. More and more countries are governed by the Centre-left. It seems like only small countries in the European periphery, like Norway, Portugal and Greece bucks this trend.

The election gave the government a slightly smaller majority than last time, however there were quite substantial changes within the coalition. My party, SV (the Socialist Left) lost four mandates and Labour gained three. This has certainly repercussions. Wednesday, the seventh of October the government released the new platform for the coming four years. This shows a slight move to the right, especially on areas of asylumseekers and immigration.

The debate in Norway and many other European countries has moved to the right over the last years. This is unfortunately mirrored in the new platform. The government intend to raise the bar to get the right to stay in Norway based on humanitarian criteria. I dislike this intensely

On the other hand the new platform is offensive and good especially on climate change and the environment. Here and on equal pay/gender equality and education the platform is quite good. The government states clearly that they want a 40% reduction of climate change gases, which is great but not quite enough and that there should be norms for how many pupils each teacher should be responsible for. On equal pay the government intends to include the labour organisations and the industrial organisations in talks to find ways to ensure that women get equal pay. I they can agree on principles and mechanisms then the government will put up the money.

I am also very glad for many of the things which are stated on international policy. Norway will endeavour to take a leading role in NATO to reduce nuclear weapons. We are open towards reducing our troops in Afghanistan and Norway wil work hard to reduce illegimate debt that third world countries must pay. This is important new steps in the right direction.

On the balance I must say that the platform is OK. SV got more than we could expect with only 6,2% of the votes. There is of course much I would have wanted differently, but in the end the voters decide by which party they support.

What do you think should be the most important choices for Norway in the coming years?

The Arctic is heating up

No, I’m not talking about climate change. Even though I obviously could have, the North West passage is open again this year. No, I’m talking about the international scramble to grab land (read sea bottom) in the Arctic.

The United Nations Law of the Sea gives all the countries around the Arctic bassin until 2014 to stake their claim or earlier if they ratified before 2004. This means we are in for a rush of claims. Norway has already submitted her claim, Russia, Canada and Denmark (Greenland)are ready to do so. What the US will do is uncertain. The US has not ratified the Law of the Sea treaty, while the other countries have.

There is litle doubt that some of the claims will overlap. Certainly more than one country will claim the pole. Russia surely has made her intent clear by planting a flag on the north pole.
With the ice disappearing and the US Geological services claiming that large reserves of petroleum is to be found, there is reason to believe conflict will be many and tough. Lets just hope they do not escalate. Dose.ca writes:

In the latest sign of the rising international political stakes in the Arctic, the top U.S. Coast Guard official has revealed a planned shift in American foreign policy from scientific research to “sovereignty” and “security presence” in Alaskan waters bordering Canadian and Russian

further

“The primary mission right now is the maritime boundary line with Russia – keeping foreigners from stealing Alaskan fish,” Rear Admiral. Gene Brooks, head of the U.S. Coast Guard’s operations in Alaska, told the radio network.

and

…prompted the Conservative government to promise a new year-round icebreaker for Arctic waters and a fleet of up to eight ice-reinforced patrol boats.

But we should be careful not to look at this potential conflict with old cold war glasses. The potential disputes between Canada and the US, Canada and Denmark are equal poignant as the potential conflict between all the Arctic countries and Russia.

However the Telegraph writes that:

As the polar powers have got out their maps in the last couple of years, four of them – Norway, Denmark, Canada, and the USA – have made the unpleasant discovery that the fifth – Russia – is far ahead of the game. As Russian forces consolidate their grip on her messy southern frontier in the aftermath of the war with Georgia, her diplomats, oilmen and military have been pressing their advantage in the north, a border region which is on a far vaster scale but equally confused and disputed.

Cleo Paskal, an Assistant Fellow at Chatham House and an expert on how climate change will affect borders, said: “The Russians have a big head start. Their nuclear submarines have been all over the Arctic for decades, they have 16 icebreaking ships to the Americans’ four, they have a lot of experience and a lot of the right gear.

So as all countries are beefing up their military capabilities in the Arctic, lets just hope the dispute settlement mechanisms in the Law of the Sea treaty will be robust – and enough.