KRF veteran: If the Christian Democrats cross the threshold, Ropstad is a winner no matter what

Kjell Ingolf RopstadPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB

For the Christian Democrats (KRF), the question on Monday night will be whether they will cross the threshold limit. If they manage to do so, it will be a success, Emil André Erstad thinks. 

If the KRF ends up with a support below 4.2%, it will be the party’s worst election result since 1936. Nevertheless, party leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad can emerge as a winner.

“The KRF was down and out after the election in 2017. It was the party’s worst election, and they started the evening below the threshold. Saving the party with over 4% this year, with the turbulence the party has been through, cannot be characterized as anything other than a success,” Erstad, who is currently a commentator at Vårt Land, said.

Christian Democrat veteran  

Few outsiders know the KRF as well as Erstad. He was the leader of the youth organization KrFU (Young Christian Democrats) from 2013 to 2015 and, at times, the then-party leader Knut Arild Hareide’s closest adviser. 

After the so-called “road choice” in November 2018, where an extraordinary national meeting chose to join Erna Solberg’s conservative government, he wrote the book “Hareide’s fall.” Like many others on the “red” side, who wanted cooperation with the Labor Party and the Center Party, he resigned.

“I would not have thought that the party would get over the threshold two years ago. They have mobilized in a way I have never seen from the Christian Democrats before. It is quite impressive,” Erstad said.

If the KRF falls below the 4% threshold, they will probably be left with three direct mandates: party leader Ropstad in Vest-Agder, Minister of Agriculture and deputy leader Olaug Bollestad in Rogaland and Minister of Development Dag Inge Ulstein in Hordaland. If they land above the 4% threshold, that number could be at least doubled.

First success in a long time?

The last time the KRF could call an election a success was in 1997 and 2001, according to the Vårt Land commentator. All the elections after that have gone worse than the party had thought.

“It will be the first time in a long time that the KRF can think ‘this went better than expected.’ 4% is not good, but it could be a rags-to-riches story for the KRF in the same way as it was for the Socialist Left in 2013, and the Liberal Party several times before.”

Erstad believes that the KRF has managed to mobilize voters who have previously been upset about the party’s directional struggle and the outcome but who are unwilling to let the party die out.

Professionalization and modernization

In addition, he points to a team of ministers who can appeal to many types of KRF voters, and a more professional election campaign than before. The latter is what the Vårt Land commentator believes is important for the KRF in the future.

“Ropstad is aware that he must renew and professionalize the organization and modernize the policies,” Erstad said.

Even if the party manages to get over the threshold, the KRF still faces two of the same challenges they have had for many years: voters who are dying out and a changing Christian landscape in Norway.

“What is needed is a profile that can reach new voters. It is not enough to mobilize today’s voters; they must get new ones. This is probably the biggest challenge Ropstad has to think about. There are many opportunities for the party,” Erstad said.

Ropstad is safe

The Vårt Land commentator believes the party leader is safe, no matter what the election result is. Whether Ropstad himself will continue after a poor election result is another question.

“But there is no doubt that the last week and the difficult issues that have characterized his career as party leader are a burden for a politician and the people around him over time,” he said.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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