Social Democracy Strengthens Its Grip

Parliamentary elections were held in Norway on September 14th. The government since 2005 has been a so-called red and green coalition between the traditional, Social Democratic Norwegian Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) and its junior partners; the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti; petty bourgeois, reformist left) and the Centre Party (Senterpartiet; rural petty bourgeois).

The following article was published by Communist Platform the day after the election.

As no true alternative to the bourgeois parliamentary ‘blocs’ was to be found, and since a central task was to keep Fremskrittspartiet (Party of progress)1 out of government, common sense resulted in an electoral breeze in favour of Arbeiderpartiet (Labour party). This is entirely logical: Why vote for minor Social Democratic parties like SV (Socialist Left Party)2 and Rødt (Red)3 when there is a large one already?

The election conceals a growing public frustration: Despite a media offensive focusing on that every single vote would be crucial in a breathtaking battle between the two ‘blocs’, one out of four chose not to visit a polling station; this is the lowest turnout since 1927. Moreover, an as yet unknown number of abstainers made use of the opportunity to submit a blank vote at the polling place.

As expected, Fremskrittspartiet did well, collecting 23 percent of the votes. Playing up to xenophobia hand in hand with appeals to popular and understandable contempt of politicians (i.e. the bourgeois political system translator’s note), was profitable. From a progressive perspective the outcome could have been worse, considering the opinion polls during the summer months. Nevertheless, the two open right-wing parties (Fremskrittspartiet and Høyre) are able to muster 40 percent support.

Although we are lacking available background figures that show the spread of votes between different classes and social strata, there is sufficient basis to say that a large proportion of the working class has rallied behind the Labour Party (AP) to keep Fremskrittspartiet out of office. AP have increased their vote on the whole. This is due to AP’s vast campaign-machinery with support from the trade unions and their apparatus as well as a skilled election campaign strategy where [Prime Minister] Stoltenberg has been profiled as the unifying red and green architect, and not so much as head of the Norwegian Labour Party. With more than 35 percent of the vote DNA can be very satisfied. It is an impressive achievement by a party that has disbanded and neglected a wide range of the promises presented in the Soria Moria declaration (platform of the government) in 2005.

The bill for the success of the main Social Democratic party has been paid for by SV in particular. In some counties SV is almost halved. This is not solely the result of tactical voting, but clearly also a popular protest against this party’s complete betrayal on the issue of NATO, on the Norwegian warfare in Afghanistan and when it comes to protection of the environment. Both of these two major questions the imperialist NATO-warfare against the Afghan people and the struggle for the environment drowned in debates between the contesting candidates for the post of prime minister and the question of alternative government coalitions. It served all the dominating parties well: the Labour Party, the Conservatives and FrP.

Parties that more or less attempted to put on the agenda the fight against poverty, the struggle against racist immigration policy and the fight for the environment, were severely punished. This is just as true for the (liberal) Left and Christian parties as it is for the Socialist Left and Red party. Venstre (bourgeois liberal left party) has been reduced to a tiny party and Lars Sponheim (the head of Venstre) lost his seat in parliament. Normally, we would have absolutely nothing positive to say about this anti-trade union liberal party. However, in the fight against racism and xenophobia Sponheim stood out firm and clear (especially confronting Fremskrittspartiet), and he issued loud warnings against the ‘brown’ (quote Sponheim) turn in Norwegian politics that is advocated by both the major ‘blocs’. Concerning the firm attitude Sponheim displayed on this issue, leaving SV or Red in the rear, he and the Liberal party must be credited. A more murky question is whether it was this outspokenness that inflicted the loss of votes, or whether the reason lies elsewhere.

The Rødt (Red) party has in this election definitely placed itself as a new Socialist Left (as of the 70s), only in a more reformist and unfortunate manner. As a logical extension of this party’s transition to reformism, Red vowed to support a so-called ‘red and green’ government, and thereby made themselves hostages to Social Democracy. Red put forward one single ‘ultimatum’ for supporting Stoltenberg, namely defending the existing pension for the worn-down and disabled (which the bourgeoisie plans to cut down, as has been the case with other social pensions and benefits translator’s note). Someone must have believed that this ‘tactical genius’ would hand Red great appeal with the backing from the Confederation of trade unions, LO. Naturally, this didn’t happen. Moreover, if one should accept the premise that Red should limit itself to one single ultimate demand to give backing to the government, this single obvious demand would of course have had to be the immediate withdrawal of the (around 650) Norwegian mercenaries from Afghanistan.

In a situation where SV has lost face completely after four years in government and might have been slaughtered by a truly revolutionary alternative in the elections, Red has been eager to achieve parliamentary ‘weight’ and mark distance to unspeakable socialist and communist ideals. In this manner, the Red party with a vengeance achieved to place itself on the sidewalk.

In the process of licking the wounds after this ‘historic opportunity’ evaporated, in spite of the fact that they carefully avoided using naughty ‘no-words’ like class struggle, socialism or revolution during the election campaign, the time now has come for internal head-banging. Revolutionaries who have stayed put within Red, hoping that a success in the elections might give the left wing of the party a boost and make it possible to correct the rightist course, should now realise the realities: The Red vessel’s hull is pervaded by the termites of Social Democracy, its rudder is locked in starboard position and the sails are torn to shreds by ‘red and green’ hurricanes.


1. This party is anything but ‘progressive’, it is a neo-liberalist, very US-inspired and Zionist party which often has been compared to European parties like National Front in France and Dansk folkeparti in Denmark. It is a populist and extremely opportunistic party, even making use of former slogans from the ‘old’ Social Democracy. The racist card has been played down slightly in recent years in order to make the party more palatable for possible conservative coalition partners. At present Fremskrittspartiet (abbr.: FrP) is ‘bribing the electorate’ by arguing for much more public state spending although primarily to the benefit of ‘ethnic Norwegians’.

2. SV is result of an offspring from the old Labour party around 1960, based on the opposition to NATO and nuclear armament. Since 2005, the Party has (for the first time) been in a coalition government with the Labour party and the Centre party (with its main social basis among the petty bourgeoisie and in the rural areas). The chairwoman of SV, Kristin Halvorsen, has since 2005 been Minister of Finance.

3. Rødt (Red) is a merger of the former Red Electoral Alliance and the Workers’ Communist party (AKP), after the latter liquidated itself in 2007. It has consistently deteriorated towards reformism in the two past years.

Translated from by Revolusjon.
Introduction and notes added by Revolusjon.

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