– Hareide’s speech seemed to many of us to be brilliant, and it is of course something we have in the back of our minds, says Geir Lippestad to NRK.
In September 2018, the then leader of KrF, Knut Arild Hareide, spoke to KrF’s national board and asked the party to seek government cooperation with the Labor Party and the Center Party. Two years later, Hareide is Minister of State in Erna Solberg’s government, while several KrF members who were inspired by his message join forces to create a new party.
– But we are not “the red KrF”, we are people with different party backgrounds, and I think we will be a much broader party than KrF, says Lippestad.
Working towards the 21st election
The party Downtown had a founding meeting at the end of last week, but must collect 5,000 signatures in order to be a legally registered party that can stand for election in the Storting election 2021.
– The Storting is the goal, says Lippestad. – The fight against exclusion and societal barriers is our DNA, he says.
The political platform that is adopted highlights the following, among others:
- The party is independent of the bloc
- The fight for vulnerable groups and inclusion is central
- Norway is responsible for receiving people on the run
- Fight against growing economic inequality
- Oil extraction on the Norwegian shelf will be phased out over the course of 15 years
- Supports international cooperation and the EEA agreement
- Active national ownership policy
Lippestad himself was city councilor for the Labor Party until 2017 and sat on the Oslo City Council until 2019. When NRK interviewed him on Tuesday afternoon, he had so far not sent the resignation to the Labor Party. But most of those who are now starting up the new party Downtown has a background from KrF and was on the “red side” during the choice of direction.
- Kristin Walstad was until recently deputy head of Viken KrF
- Irene Solli was the second deputy leader in Agder KrF until January this year
- Dag Sele was a county leader in Hordaland KrF and a central board member
They also bring with them Tom Sverre Tomren who has represented MDG in the county council in Hordaland and also our KrF member. The zone of former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (KrF), John Harald Bondevik, has previously not been politically active, but recently made a name for himself with a statement that was strongly critical of KrF.
On 2 November 2018, the KrF national meeting voted on the choice of direction that party leader Knut Arild Hareide had invited.
Hareide wanted the party to seek government power. He wanted KrF to cooperate with the Labor Party and the Center Party. But a narrow majority would look the other way. They decided that KrF should join Erna Solberg’s government.
At the extraordinary national meeting in the autumn of 2018, the “blue side” in KrF won by a narrow margin of 98-90. And so KrF was a government party. Hareide resigned as party leader, and deputy leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad took over. At Granavolden in the new year 2019, he negotiated KrF into government with the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Green Party.
But KrF was divided about in the middle. What remained was a large crowd of drawers “red”.
NRK knows that there was talk of a new party right after the election. Several politicians and advisers who stood on Hareide’s line resigned after a quarter of an hour, refused to vote or resigned. But it is only recently that the idea has matured so much that a smaller circle of people have joined forces and realized the idea of a new party. The new party says that the values are social democratic, Christian democratic and Christian socialist mindset.
– KrF has achieved something that is good in government, but in many cases they are set aside. We have seen this especially in the last year. From the case of undocumented rights, not least in the Moria case in particular, but also in environmental matters, says Irene Solli who is deputy chair of the board of the new party. Solli is a former deputy leader in Agder KrF and was elected deputy representative in the city council in Kristiansand and the county council in Agder from KrF’s list. She resigned from the party in January this year.
Many of those who have party history from KrF emphasize that KrF has become too preoccupied with Christian symbolic values and that the party has become a right-wing party that contributes to giving Frp power.
– I agree with large parts of KrF’s program, but I feel that the party is quiet where I expected them to oppose Frp’s statements, and some of what comes from KrF in the debate about homosexuality and homotherapy is contributing to divisive rhetoric, says Dag Sele.
Sele was the county leader for Hordaland KrF when the party made the choice of direction in 2018 and has also sat on the central board of KrF. Now he is also on the board of the new party. He thinks his former party is too busy to satisfy some voters in the KrF bedrock.
Collaboration with the left
The party describes itself as bloc-independent.
Chairman Geir Lippestad is still in no doubt about who Downtown meiner should be prime minister – if they were to be able to get as far as the Storting.
– As the political situation is today, a vote for the Center will be a vote for a change of government.
– Is a block independent then?
– If one is to do something with exclusion and inclusion, then it does not happen in a collaboration with Frp.
– Is the Center a Christian party?
– We take Christian and religious values seriously. But we will govern according to the UN’s sustainability goals.
– But it is not a Christian party?
– No, the Center is a party for everyone who is preoccupied with our politics, and we are preoccupied with the values that underlie both Christianity and other religions.
KrF: – The same heart issues
– We register that people from three different parties start a new party with many of the same heart issues that we fight for. We should of course wish that all of these chose to get involved in the large Christian Democratic center party we have, says Erik Lunde, who is a central board member of KrF.
Lunde himself voted for KrF to choose the red side in 2018.
– We must have respect for the fact that people have different ways of getting involved, but I experience that most of us, including us who were on the red side in the direction election in 2018, still have our involvement in KrF. Of course, we want as many as possible on our team.
– How do you assess the risk that KrF will lose voters to the new party?
– It is difficult to speculate. We have a clear strategy to get well over the threshold at the election next year, and I also think this can mobilize a bit.
Lunde is completely unaware that KrF has become too preoccupied with Christian symbolic values and that the party has become a right-wing party that contributes to giving Frp power.
– First, I experience that KrF every day fights to turn politics towards the center. And then I experience that we are a party that is preoccupied with the great challenges of our time.