Immature of Labour to support referendum says Finnmark’s representative
A referendum in Finnmark regarding a merger with Troms is an immature decision, says Minister of Defense and representative for Finnmark, Frank Bakke-Jensen (Conservatives).
– The Labour Party in Finnmark has not understood its democratic role, says Minister of Defense and elected representative from Finmark, Frank Bakke-Jensen to NTB.
He believes that the decision of the Finnmark County Council to hold a referendum in May does not change the realities.
– A pipe dream, says Bakke-Jensen, referring to some inhabitants of Finnmark’s hope that a massive no to the merger will make the Government make an about turn.
Understanding their role
– The train left the station when the Parliament decised on the regional reform. The Labour Party and the County Council of of Finnmark should have been present long before that. – The debate took place in the Parliament (Stortinget) and in the counties for a long time before the final decisions were reached. It had spoken in Finnmark’s favour if they had realized their democratic role when this process was underway, says the man from Båtsfjord, which last year became Cabinet Minister representing Finnmark’ after eight years as a commoner in the Parliament. He rejects that a referendum will reverse the decision of merging Troms and Finnmark into a large northern region.
– The process is fixed. If the counties do not agree on how to achieve this, it’s up to the Government to find the solution, simply because the Parliament has decided the matter a long time ago, he says.
– Immature politicians
86 per cent of those asked in Finnmark and 73 per cent of those in Troms said no to a unified Troms and Finnmark in a survey Sentio recently conducted on behalf of NRK.
Bakke-Jensen believes that the Labour Party must take the responsibility themselves.
– They quite simply have immature politicians. Leading politicians in Finnmark have not understood the democratic processes. It is running away from responsibility and lack of understanding of their role when such prominent local politician such as Helga Pedersen first works towards a regional reform as the deputy leader of Labour, and then turns their cloak to the wind when this becomes a hot political potato in the Parliament, says the Minister of Defense.
Voluntarity the basis
Pedersen, who leads Labour’s local party organization in Tana, and to a large degree is the architect behind the “no vote” at the annual meeting in Finnmark Labour the first weekend in March, refutes the criticism.
– Labour has been on the ball throughout the process. The county council has issued a clear no to the merger, totally in line with an overwhelming majority of what people in both counties think is right, she says, and continues:
– In the Parliament, Labour has respected the people from Finnmark by granting voluntarity as basis for both municipal and county mergers, and by voting against coercion being used in merging Troms and Finnmark.
Regarding the referendum, she says:
– I understand that it is uncomfortable for a hard-pressed Government and for a Cabinet Minister who is on a collision course with his own county. But it is a bit far fetched to call a referendum as being undemocratic.
Difficult election campaign
Bakke-Jensen admits that it will not be easy to contribute to the to the local election campaign for the Conservatives next year.
– I participated in the election campaign last autumn with this issue as a backdrop. It is difficult to communicate an understanding for the merger. But I have now been elected for the third time and am not worried about standing up for my views in that debate, he says.
He is saddened by the fact that the people of Finnmark is working for a rematch.
– I wish they would use all this energy to emphazise the excellent opportunities we posses in Finnmark instead. Bring the environments containing knowledge to the fore and what tasks we can take on. Yes, to build on the independent Finnmark that we are able to achieve in a large region, then we will be much better rigged for the future, he believes.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today