When news broke, last week, that Prime Minister Erna Solberg had broken local and national corona measures, the Norwegian police acted as fast as the media. It took less than 24 hours for the police to launch a formal, independent investigation into two incidents that occurred during the Prime Minister’s family birthday celebrations in Geilo. The speed and independence of this investigation are surely a healthy sign of the separation of political power here in Norway.
Police have now questioned PM
The events that led the Prime Minister to potentially break corona infection rules and measures are well publicized. A birthday celebration with her family that involved a trip to a restaurant and dinner in a rented apartment. All of this was done when the rest of the country was adhering to strict rules about private gatherings and events.
Per Morten Sending, Chief Prosecutor for the Buskerud area of South-East Police District (Sør-øst politidistrikt) confirmed, in an interview with newspaper VG, that the police have questioned the Prime Minister. Her husband, Sindre Finnes, was also questioned on March 22. The police expected the investigation to continue throughout the remainder of the week.
Reports help build police case, PM risks fine
The investigation was started by the police after the media reported the possible breaching of corona measures based on comments made by the Prime Minister herself.
A statement released by the South-East Police District said that the focus of the investigation “…will clarify what has actually happened about whether this may be a violation of either local or central regulations.”
It has built momentum in recent days as the police have now received dozens of reports, from members of the public, regarding the Prime Minister’s alleged breach. These reports will be merged into one formal
investigation against her.
Operations Manager of Buskerud Police, Øyvind Aas, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), that given similar situations of a breach in the past, fines have been handed out to the guilty parties.
It is a NOK 20.000 fine for the arrangement of gatherings that exceed the maximum number of people allowed by local and national measures whilst the individual fine is NOK 10.000.
Speed of investigation shows no sign of favoritism for PM
What the Norwegian public can take away from this case, other than even Prime Ministers can err sometimes, is the strength of Norway’s political, legal, and judicial system. It took less than 24 hours for the police to launch their own very much independent investigation.
The Prime Minister, and her husband, were interviewed by March 22, a little more than a week or so after the first reports were splashed over the daily newspapers and websites.
There would not be many countries in Europe, let alone the world, where the police would have acted like their Norwegian counterparts. Launching an investigation into a sitting Prime Minister, and members of her family, is intimidating.
Especially with such speed. However, the police should be applauded for their independence and “all are equal before the law” principle that underpins this investigation.
Furthermore, the speed at which the Prime Minister and her husband were interviewed by the Police is noticeable too. There was no delay, no excuses, no faked illnesses, or whatever else is in the classic bag of tricks from politicians avoiding responsibility.
For this, the Prime Minister should also deserve a (sanitized) pat on the back. The police had questions and she answered. The result of this questioning is still forthcoming though.
Public reports show no fear of PM
What is also good for a healthy democracy, and political system, is equality before the law. That means, regardless of who you are, what your job is, or who you know, the law will be applied equally and equitably.
The fact that the police received dozens of reports, from the general public, who were in the vicinity of Geilo, about the Prime Minister breaching corona measures should also be celebrated.
These are ordinary, everyday people who know that the system of laws and regulations, in Norway, was constructed for them and not for the protection of those in high elected office.
As for the Prime Minister, she has now canceled her Easter holidays to Bergen. Would the Prime Minister have gone without the current furor over her birthday celebrations?
That is, of course, a hypothetical question. However, a concrete fact is, that here, in Norway, whether you are the Prime Minister or a member of the public, the police, whilst enforcing the law, will be neutral, independent, swift, and equitable.
That fact is one of the bedrocks of political, legal, and societal harmony here in Norway.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Norway Today unless specifically stated.
Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews
Do you have a news tip for Norway Today? We want to hear it. Get in touch at email@example.com