– Abid was the best at tricking with the ball. I was the best at scoring goals. Minister of Education Guri Melby, who this weekend takes over the party leader job in the Liberal Party, sums up his satisfied efforts on the football field for the Liberal Party’s new leadership.
Dagbladet meets them for an interview about how the three who until recently competed for the leadership position, will now sit in the management together.
They have chosen Kampen School in Oslo as the backdrop and the interview starts with a football session in honor of the photographer.
It turns out that Guri Melby has not only scored the leadership job, she also has a fairly accurate goal foot.
– Sveinung did not hit at all! cries Culture and Sports Minister Abid Raja, but then Melby goes in and comforts:
– He put up very nice passes.
Rotevatn has a different approach to what happened on the course:
– It was I who ran and worked the most, he says dryly.
Painful change of leadership
A rare protracted and painful change of leadership will finally culminate this weekend. Trine Skei Grande, Terje Breivik and Ola Elvestuen are thanked more or less voluntarily. Grande announced in March that she would resign, but the corona meant that the national meeting where a new leader was to be elected in April was postponed until September.
Only a month ago, the nomination committee announced that they had nominated Guri Melby for the party leadership position, followed by Sveinung Rotevatn as 1st deputy leader and Abid Raja as 2nd deputy leader.
In the meantime, the three had been feeling each other’s teeth for months. Apparently.
– Buuhuu! Abid Raja jokes in response to what it is like to gather under Melby’s leadership when all three wanted the leadership position.
Guri Melby interrupts him with a laugh:
– We have read in the media that we are in a leadership battle. But we have worked together as normal all this period. I do not follow that there has been any problem, she says, before she hurries to add:
– But maybe it’s easy for me to say?
Abid Raja also says the internal power struggle is exaggerated.
-It seemed like war, but it was not. We all made ourselves available, so we were open to being each other’s leaders or deputy leaders, he says.
– Was disappointed
Sveinung Rotevatn was the one who first went out openly and said that he would like to become the Liberal leader.
– I will be so honest to say that I was a little disappointed, he says.
– When you have made yourself available, you hope to be pointed out. But I shook it off pretty quickly. I have never been against any of the others becoming leaders in the Liberal Party, because they are not opponents. But they have been competitors, he says.
Abid Raja reminds that while Rotevatn said he wanted to become leader in May, he was not so ready.
– In July and said something like that a little over 50 percent of me wanted to become a leader. What I have always said to the nomination committee is that it is not a must for me to become a leader, but I made myself available. The most important thing is to build a team that can work closely and well together to raise the community values that we are concerned about. And I have real faith that the three of us together will be able to do that, says Raja.
Guri Melby says some of the first messages she received after the setting was known were from Raja and Rotevatn.
– They congratulated and wrote something like “this will be good”. It made it a lot easier for me.
Rewind even further: When Trine Skei Grande resigned, it was Abid Raja and Sveinung Rotevatn who were considered the favorites to take over the leadership position.
The original recommendation from the nomination committee had not found a place for Guri Melby in the leadership. She has previously admitted that she found it disappointing. A few days later, Grande threw in the towel and made it clear that she was resigning as leader.
– I no longer think I can bring this together, as I had hoped, she said.
Then the accusations against her about the coup and that she had pressured Rotevatn to stand behind her had hailed.
– I then believed that both I, Abid and Trine could make it work. We agreed to stand in that setting together. Trine of a different opinion, we can only take note of that, Rotevatn says today.
– Is not the advantage that we now start with blank sheets? Ask Melby.
– There was another response from the party organization to the recommendation in March. It was probably not indifferent to Trine’s choice either. There was a lot of unrest. Now I experience that most people have mostly settled down with this here. It also feels better for us that this is something the party nods to and thinks is good, says Melby.
– There were different people in the party who cheered on me, on Guri and on Abid, but I have not experienced that anyone after the setting thought that this is a big defeat. I think most people in the party are comfortable with the fact that the three of us will be in the party leadership. We are at least comfortable with each other, and work very well together. So this I think will work very well.
– In a hurry
– What about Melby, have you been invited to pizza and team building?
– We have started a little already. But we work together all the time. We talk several times a week through the jobs we have. We need to find a way of working that works for us. At the same time, we are having a pretty bad time. It is less than a year until the election.
– The main focus will be on nailing the main issues and the profile. We must ensure that the entire organization is involved. During October, we will probably visit all county teams, says Melby.
– We started to have some meetings before the summer. A little barbecue at home, and we still have that now, Raja reveals.
– We had a sushi meeting at Sveinung not so long ago. We can say everything about what it looked like there, it was very neat, he says jokingly.
Agree on cooperation
The question of who the Liberal Party should cooperate with has been a source of constant discussion in the Liberal Party. But this is not something that splits the new party leadership.
– Since I joined the Liberal Party, there have been discussions about government cooperation. But I have never experienced so little discussion about it as it is now. It may be because the party is very comfortable with the government we are in now, says Rotevatn.
Guri Melby points out that they have got the government they went to the polls for.
-I see no reason to discuss anything else as the political situation is now. As I see it, it is very unattractive to have to go another way, says Melby, who is supported by Raja.
– We get huge breakthroughs and you do not change partner when things are going so well.
Says yes to the EU
The same apparently applies to the EU issue, where it is sailing up to a historic shift for the Liberal Party. By all accounts, the national assembly this weekend will join the majority in the program committee and the national board, which will have in the program of principles that Norway should join the EU.
– As with the government issue, this has been demanding in the Liberal Party for a long time. But now the principles program committee where I have sat has delivered a recommendation where the majority believes we should say a principled yes to EU membership.
– For my part, I am glad that it looks as if the Liberal Party will say clearly that we are in favor of strong European cooperation. Not only where others participate, but where we also participate, says Rotevatn, who receives full support from Melby.
– You can sign it, she says.
Abid Raja also says he will vote for the change in the program of principles.
– In sum, I think it is correct to say that you are basically dealing with three EU supporters, he says.
– Life situation will affect
– What kind of left-wing leadership are you compared to the previous one?
– I think age and life situation help to shape you as a politician as well. The fact that we are quite a few years younger than today’s management trio and live a slightly different life. Both Abid and I have children. And Sveinung may have children soon, says Melby, with a joke at the expense of Rotevatn.
(VG could recently report that he has just become friends with the journalist Nora Rydne, but there is no baby news yet)
– I probably think that each generation has its own issues, its own approach and its own way of speaking. But then I think we are really concerned with the same issues that Trine, Ola and Terje were passionate about: The Liberal Party should continue to be a climate and environmental party, but perhaps highlight it in a slightly different way.