Thursday, 18 June 2009

Norwegian government survives vote of no confidence

In Parliament today the Norwegian government survived a vote of no confidence which had been called by members of the opposition, directed at the Minister of Trade and Industry, Sylvia Brustad (Labour Party), over her handling of the so-called Aker Solutions case. In Norway such a vote of no confidence in one minister is always a vote of no confidence in the entire government, which means that the Stoltenberg cabinet would have had to resign if it had been defeated in Parliament today.
There was, however, no chance that this would happen, as the government commands a small majority in Parliament. After a debate which lasted nearly four hours the results showed that the entire opposition, i.e. 79 MPs from the Progress Party, the Conservative Party, the Christian Democrat Party and the Liberal Party, voted for the motion, while 87 MPs from the government parties the Labour Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party opposed it. Three MPs were absent. It was the first time since 1963 that the entire opposition was united behind such a motion, but it is also almost the only thing which the opposition has been united about during this parliamentary term.
Øystein Djupedal from the Socialist Left Party expressed his view that a vote of confidence has rarely been called for on weaker grounds. On the last but one day of this parliamentary term and with a general election coming up in September, this was of course first and foremost a demonstration by the opposition parties against the majority government. For a member of the cabinet it must nevertheless be uncomfortable to know that nearly half the MPs do not feel confidence in the way she does her job.
The first picture shows the scene in Parliament earlier today. In the second is Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour Party), surrounded by MPs. To the left in the third photo are two of the MPs who called the vote, Carl I. Hagen from the Progress Party and Per-Kristian Foss from the Conservatives. The fourth photo shows the Speaker of Parliament, Thorbjørn Jagland, reading out the results and in the final one Sylvia Brustad are congratulated by the Labour MPs Eirin Faldet and Hill-Marta Solberg.

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