Solberg battles for the larger cities

Bergen larger cities elections ConservativesView of the City of Bergen. Photo: NTM

Solberg joins the battle for the larger cities

The larger cities are high on Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s (Conservatives) wishlist one year before the local elections. But it is not a defeat if all four are not painted blue.


– For the Conservative Party, it is about implementing the Government’s policy. We have many issues in which we are dependent on cooperation with the municipalities. And then I think it’s important for people who live there, says the Leader of the Conservatives, about why she joins the battle of the big cities one year before election day.

School policies, early efforts, inclusion and integration, freedom of choice and less bureaucracy are among the keywords when Solberg visits Tromsø, Trondheim and Bergen, as well as Oslo on Monday and Tuesday.

Prepared, but no defeat

The Prime Minister says she considers the possibilities to be very good. The local polls are positive, she believes.

– Will it be a defeat if you do not succeed in winning in the big cities?

– We have the ambition to win back Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø and to win in Trondheim, as well. It is not a defeat for us if we do not win everywhere. But we prepare to do so. Polls are positive. At the same time, we know that we are going to fight for the voters, she says.

And even a Prime Minister does not have control of everything.

– It’s not always an advantage to be in the Government when you run a local election campaign. The Government parties often have many other matters to handle, and that may pose a challenge in a local election. Unforeseen and unplanned issues can pop up in national policy and become dominant locally, as well, says Solberg.

Pollock on the menu

Kvaløysletta nursing home was the first stop in Tromsø on Monday afternoon. Pan-fried Pollock served with boiled potatoes, vegetables and sour cream was on the menu.

Solberg realises that it may be challenging to run local election campaigns in the north with massive opposition to the county merger of Finnmark and Troms – but claims that she is not worried because of it.

– I believe that we are able to land the regional reform in a few months time, and then we are well on our way. I believe that it is going to be a lot smaller issue in the local election campaign than it may seem to be right now, says Solberg, adding that there has been no major enthusiasm in favour of the County Municipality before.

– The commitment, debate and resistance are characterised by a lot of emotion?

– Yes, but it will be better when we start talking about the content of the services. Why the dropout in high school is the biggest in Northern Norway, as an example. Those are the real issues we are going to tackle, she tells NTB.

Gathering votes

The nomination committee in Tromsø Høyre appointed attorney Jens Johan Hjort as their Mayor candidate. He has previously been acting Mayor and was ousted after a bitter nomination process last time around.

– I contributed quite a bit to the bitterness myself. I am privileged to be allowed to join this team. And humble that I seem to be confined in once more. It is a strong list, through and through, that the nomination committee has suggested, Hjort tells NTB.

– Solberg thinks that you are a gatherer of votes?

– It’s nice to get that label from someone who is a gatherer of votes herself. That is not something I can comment on. But there are many who have congratulated and welcomed me back. And that is heartwarming, says Hjort.

Tromsø Høyre’s nomination list will be finalized at their nomination meeting on October 13th.

Helps with impetus

Solberg thinks it was «just of target» in several cities where the Conservatives had good results in 2015. Now she will help to get the ball across the goal line.

– Local elections always have a clear overweight of local issues that are important, she says, referring to property taxes, toll roads and schools.

– Besides, we have strong local candidates. It is also a boon when we do well in national polls. You vote locally, but it surely provides an extra boost when the central management is popular, she believes.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today