2021: A year in Norway like no other

NusfjordPhoto: Jessica Pamp / Unsplash

As the end of the year approaches, now is a good time to look back at the year that was. Though COVID-19 dominated the headlines, 2021 was a dynamic year involving millions of coronavirus jabs, the end of Erna, Karsten’s record run, and the opening of the new Munch Museum.

Politics: The end of an er(n)a

Perhaps the biggest political story was a change of national government. The national parliamentary election, in September, saw a left-wing coalition government seize the reins of power led by AP leader Jonas Gahr Støre. 8 years of rule by Erna Solberg (H) was ended with an election dominated by government scandals, climate change, and oil.

Apart from Mr. Støre, the biggest political winner was Trygve Slagsvold Vedum (SP) who is now holding the nation’s purse strings as Minister of Finance. The biggest political loser, aside from the former Solberg government, was Kjell Ingolf Ropstad whose “ignorance” of parliamentary commuter housing rules sparked off a whole debate about corruption and double standards in the Storting.

In local politics, Bergen finally approved a plan that would see its light rail network cut straight through the historic Hansa harbourfront whilst Oslo grappled with a several billion kroner budget blowout of a water supply pipeline.

Erna Solberg - Jonas Gahr Støre
The former and the current Prime Minister of Norway: Erna Solberg and Jonas Gahr Støre. Photo: Javad Parsa / NTB

The economy – electricity prices surge higher and higher

Bizarrely enough, a container blockage in the Suez Canal led to major supply chain issues throughout the world leading to a jump in prices. According to the SSB, the inflation rate for the year November 2020-November 2021 was 5.1%. Housing, water gas, and electricity saw a 16.1% rise in this period with consumer goods, in general, seeing a 7.9% price increase during this period. The cost of electricity was seen as a major election issue and the new government has set about a scheme to reimburse consumers. With inflation at 5.1%, this is far more than the 2-3% rate targeted by Norges Bank.

The nomination of former Prime Minister and NATO head honcho Jens Stoltenberg’s nomination to this very bank raised a few eyebrows in the past month. Unemployment continued to decrease throughout the year with only 4% registered as unemployed by this November.

Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines: Norway is now rapidly approaching a 100% vaccination rate. Photo: Pfizer via AP

COVID-19 – successful vaccine rollout

Considering a year ago there was no COVID-19 vaccine, the fact that now more than 72.6% of the population are totally vaccinated is a minor miracle. Figures released by The Norwegian Institute for Public Health (Folkehelseinstitutt, FHI) show that, up to December 23, there have been more than 9.2 million PCR tests resulting in just over 360,000 reported cases of COVID-19. Tragically, 1.257 have died of the disease since February 2020.

This is also the second year, and Christmas, that much of the country struggles with masks, lockdowns, and a ban on the sale of alcohol in restaurants, bars, or clubs. With many expected to receive their “booster jab” sometime before February 2022, the end may well be in sight…

Karsten Warholm
He’s quick: Karsten Warholm shows off his Olympic Gold Medal in Tokyo this August. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

Sport – girl power and gold medals

In the sporting world, the year belonged to Karsten Warholm. The “Usain Bolt of Ulsteinvik” not only broke the world record for the 400-meter hurdles twice (who could forget that July night in Oslo?) but also won an Olympic Gold Medal was one of the most epic finals in Olympic history.

They say that sport and politics should never mix but they did in 2021. The women’s national beach handball team took a stand against sexism in their sport whilst the Norwegian men’s football team took a stand against human rights abuses by Qatar in its preparations to host the next football World Cup. There was a dismal familiarity to proceedings though as the men’s team were absent from the delayed Euro 2020 and missed out on qualifying for the World Cup. The women, as always, qualified for Euro 2022 showing that some Norwegians really are skilled at football.

Hats off, of course, to the Women’s handball team who gave the nation an early Christmas present: a world Championship!

King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit with “Scream” during the opening of the new Munch Museum in Oslo. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB

The Arts: Edvard’s new home and Obama’s choice

Given that much of the country has been in lockdown for much of the year, the arts and cultural activities have had another year of struggling to make ends meet. Never has there been a better year to be a “couch potato.” From politician turned pen holder Abid Raja’s autobiographical “My Fault” (Min Skyld) to the latest Jørgen Jæger’s dramatic page-turner “The Verdict” (Dommen), Norwegian books have been the one bright spark of hope in an otherwise dark cultural year.

Much of Edvard Munch’s work was moved, from Tøyen to Bjørvika, with the opening of the brand new Munch Museum taking place in October. Whatever the British press think about its design, the Norwegian public didn’t care as many flocked to see the largest museum for a single artist in the world.

The festive period is a perfect time to #NetflixAndChill with the second season of “Beforeigners” released soon whilst the success of “Pørni” shows that Norwegian humor is amongst the best in the world. On the silver screen, the year was dominated by “The Worst Person in the World” (Verdens verste menneske) which has won over the Cannes and New York film elite whilst charming even former US President Barack Obama. With “The Oscars” just weeks away the movie presents Norway’s best chance of a golden beginning for 2022…

Whatever 2022 has in store for Norway, we at Norway Today will have it covered.

We would like to wish all of you a very “God Jul og Godt Nytt År!

Source : #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

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