Support for Norwegian Labour Party government plummets

Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway's Prime Minister (Photo: Flikr)

One year ago, the Norwegian Labour Party came into office. And we predicted, that if they do not carry out policies in favour of the normal people (workers, students, pensioners, and the poor) then the people will turn against them. The latest opinion polls back this up from 65% just after the elections and now at 19.5% 12 months after the elections.

The inflationary crisis after the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, has created in Norway (and elsewhere in Europe and the world) a ‘perfect storm’  – people feel daily in their pockets and purse how price inflation in food, electricity prices, petrol and diesel and the latest now are increased bank charges and bank interest fees being added to the list.

There has been a call by some sections of the population for the capping of prices, including electricity prices, fuel prices and bank interest rates, which are easy to do. But the Norwegian Labour Party says it was too difficult to do. The last conservative government gave 42.000 million Norwegian kroner of taxpayers’ money to big business in a matter of 48 hours.

In Norway, the media muddies the waters about the price of electricity, with many excuses, but the biggest ones they use daily have been the lack of water in the reservoirs and dams. This is not true as the dams are overflowing.  Other excuses concern the condition of underwater electric cables to the continent and the UK. Spot price electricity can be as low as 0.35 kroner or up to 6-11 kroner (20+ times the price) But sometimes these peaks in prices can be by at what would normally be termed as off-peak times, for example, 22.00 -24.00 hrs. This means that the speculators are buying at spot price low and then selling to us at enormous profits.

The government is not prepared to confront these speculators. Instead, we see that they are prepared to use taxpayers’ money to pay for the difference. You might as well just take taxpayers’ money and put it into the bank accounts and/or pockets of these speculators.

The Norwegian Labour government is also not prepared to intervene in the bank price crisis that is coming. The banks have increased the lending interest percentage from 1/2% to 3.5% since Christmas and they are warning of more hikes in the prices of mortgages, in the next 12 months. The Bank of Norway (which controls the interest rates) is a state institution and for many people, it is seen that it should be responsible for the well-being of the workers and not the CEOs of private banks and shareholders.

The Labour Party government is also not prepared to intervene in the food crisis that has hit Norway hard because of the war in Ukraine. There are four main supermarket chains in Norway. One of them is the Co-op, which, in theory, should be on the same side as the workers. But they are not. In a scandal that was shown on (the national television) NRK in Norway, in the summer of last year, we saw the CEO of the Co-op and his managers taking home a wage that was 15 times the wage of an average worker’s take-home pay. The CEOs of the other four supermarket chains also have a lifestyle and income that is greatly beyond the vast majority of people.

The government is also not prepared to intervene in the fuel crisis (petrol and diesel). It would be easy for the Norwegian Labour Party government to reduce the price of diesel and petrol as these come from the North Sea Oil rigs, of which the state owns 51%.

The great Norwegian energy crisis 2022

What was handed over by the outgoing conservative government was an EU deal where, by the use of sub-sea cables, energy was sold often at spot prices to speculators on the continent (mainly to the UK and Germany). Initially, we were told that, because the dams were low on water, the price had to be increased. This is a fallacy. The costs are to do with the building of international cables – often submarine cables which are very expensive to put down. The price of these cables has to be paid for by the Norwegian state and the price passed on to us.

In the eight years of the previous conservative government, we saw the previously state-owned electrical energy market sold off to private speculators. But it is not as simple as it at first seems.

Most of the hydroelectric dams are still owned by the municipalities. These were built between the turn of the nineteenth century and WW2. They were run by and for the ratepayers in most towns and even villages. The great grandparents and grandparents of the current generation paid for the building of these monumental hydroelectric dams when Norwegians were one of the poorest people in Europe.

Betraying working people 

The Norwegian Labour Party government is constantly seen now to be betraying the working people of Norway. This crisis also shows that the capitalist market has completely failed. In addition, we see the population is looking for a better deal, with an increase in the polls of people looking to the left. Both the Socialist Left Party  and Rødt (the Red Party) are increasing their share of the vote, but disturbingly some are looking to the FRP (right-wing populists) and Hoyre (Conservatives)

These necessities of life – food, fuel, housing, and electricity – are now made more expensive to us by the capitalists’ pursuit of profit. We need a socialist plan, where all the major businesses and banks are publicly owned, and democratically controlled and managed, to meet the needs of people and the environment.

 

 

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September 2022
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