– The Libyan war is a good example of a decision that far too few were involved in. SV already thought then that the matter should be taken up in the Storting. You need the open debate and an opportunity to think about and test arguments, says SV leader Audun Lysbakken.
SV is now proposing a constitutional proposal to ensure that decisions to participate in international operations must be made by the Storting. Today, the government can make that decision sovereignly – without even having a majority in the Storting.
“The kingdom’s defense force may not be used outside the kingdom’s borders without the consent of the Storting, unless it is absolutely necessary to defend the country.”, it is stated in the constitutional proposal, which can be adopted by the next Storting after 2021 at the earliest.
When Norway sent bombers to participate in the international operation in Libya, the Storting was informed that the then Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) sat down with his mobile phone.
Early in the morning on Saturday 19 March 2011, Støre party leaders Siv Jensen (Frp), Erna Solberg (H), Trine Skei Grande (V) and Dagfinn Høybråten (KrF) called and told that during the night the government had decided to send Norwegians fighter jets to take part in the bombing of Libya, Aftenposten revealed.
- At that time, the government had not had a single formal meeting on the matter – it did not come until two days later.
- The government’s subcommittee – where the party leaders in the government parties Labor, Social Democrats and Social Democrats sat – did not meet either, but only spoke by telephone.
- The Storting’s Foreign Affairs Committee was not convened until three days later, on 22 March.
Norway thus sent bombers to an African country after telephone meetings in the government. The Storting was informed by telephone after the decision had been made.
– Lack of system
According to the Petersen Committee, which reviewed the Libyan war, the Stoltenberg government was fully entitled to do so. The government fulfilled both the requirements of the Constitution to take Norway into a war and the duty to provide information to the Storting by calling the party leaders.
So SV will now do something about it. In the future, they want the Storting to make the decision where the public has also had the opportunity to participate.
– There is a shortcoming in our system that the elected representatives must not take a stand on the most very serious political question that exists: the question of sending Norwegian soldiers to war. For me, it has been an important reminder this autumn when we will process the veteran report on what we demand of those we send out in conflict. What price do some of them pay, says Lysbakken.
In both Sweden and Denmark, the government has a duty to obtain the consent of the National Assembly.
– It is presented by some as involving the Storting is terribly radical, but this is what is common. In the British Parliament, Cameron was voted down when he wanted to send planes to Syria. Denmark participated in the Libyan war following a decision in the Folketing. The argument that you do not have time to have a democratic process is bad, says Lysbakken.
Want to bring out the minority
The SV leader also wants to give the minority the opportunity to speak. Today, much of the disagreement is expressed internally in the enlarged Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, where the meetings are secret and there is a ban on minutes.
In the United States, for example, it is open and often up in the political debate who voted for or against the Iraq war. In Norway, parliamentarians are not allowed to have their say.
– The minority should have a greater opportunity to challenge the government. It also deserves the inhabitants of Norway and not least the soldiers who are to serve deserve that there is a change of opinion. It is an argument for the current system that there should be no disagreement so that everyone should join our soldiers. I am confident that everyone supports Norwegian soldiers abroad, regardless of whether they agree with the mission, says the SV leader.
And for the record: Should Norway be invaded or be in immediate danger without the Storting having the opportunity to gather, the government will retain the current opportunity to defend the fatherland.
– This is not about the defense of Norway, but the room for maneuver for participation in military operations abroad, Lysbakken emphasizes.