Sunday, 28 August 2011
Norway’s political parties have realized that the immigrant vote can make or break them as they head into the next national municipal elections on September 11-12. Several parties including the Conservatives and Labour are actively courting support from relatively new arrivals eligible to cast a ballot.

Norway's Conservative Party (Høyre) has been actively courting the Polish vote, promising campaign brochures printed in Polish.

While only residents with Norwegian citizenship can vote in national elections, all legal residents of Norway can vote in municipal elections. That means that many more people are qualified to vote in the upcoming election than were those in national elections two years ago.

And indications are that record numbers of voters, both natives and immigrants, will cast their ballots. The terrorist attacks of July 22 have sparked extraordinary feelings of solidarity and belonging in Norway, also among those who weren’t born in Norway, and election observers are expecting a record turnout next month.

“We’re doing all we can to mobilize voters,” Libe Rieber-Mohn, who’s a candidate for the top city government position (byrådsleder) from the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet), told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). She spent last weekend handing out roses and talking to prospective voters at a shopping center in Oslo’s Grorud district, known for having fairly heavy concentrations of non-ethnic Norwegian residents.

The Labour Party, featuring its legendary Finance Minister Per Kleppe, also is keen on securing the immigrant vote.

...Tor Bjørklund, a professor in political science, said he thinks few so-called “guest workers” in Norway will turn out to vote, not least because many are young and not so interested in local politics. But the immigrant vote remains important.

“In Oslo, there’s great potential to get the immigrants out to the polls,” he said. Rieber-Mohn and her Labour Party colleague, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, even visited a cricket match during the summer where many Pakistani residents were represented. Rieber-Mohn has proposed establishing a permanent cricket field in the capital.

No mention of the Progress party, the second largest party in the country. I imagine they won't be hoping for much from the immigrant vote.




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