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Home Breaking News Fateful weekend for two of the Liberal Party's leading politicians

Fateful weekend for two of the Liberal Party’s leading politicians

Few votes decide election thriller in Hordaland Venstre. Who will get the Storting seat? Newly elected deputy leader Sveinung Rotevatn or parliamentary leader Terje Breivik?

It goes towards a dramatic digital nomination meeting in Hordaland Venstre. Deputy leader Sveinung Rotevatn is facing parliamentary leader Terje Breivik. Photo: OLAV OLSEN

On Saturday, local politicians in Hordaland Venstre will meet for a groundbreaking digital nomination meeting.

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The top spot on the list is considered one of the Liberal Party’s safest. In recent years, first place on the list has given Terje Breivik a seat in the Storting. He was ousted as the party’s deputy leader this autumn, but wants re-election to the Storting.

He has been challenged by the party’s new deputy leader Sveinung Rotevatn. Neither of the two will be on the list without a top spot.

Aftenposten has spoken to Liberal sources who are trying to map out what the delegates will vote in advance. They state that it is likely to be very evenly.

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Who gets the seat of the Liberal Party’s deputy leader or the party’s parliamentary leader can be decided by a majority of a majority of votes.

A lot is at stake for both

A lot is therefore at stake for both this Saturday:

  • For Terje Breivik (55), there is a win or lose from national politics. He has been a member of the Storting since 2013. In the first years, he was the fiscal policy spokesman for the Liberal Party. Since 2018, he has been the Liberal Party’s parliamentary leader. He was deputy chairman from 2012, but was ousted when the entire management was replaced at last year’s national meeting. Before becoming deputy leader, he was general secretary of the party.
  • For Sveinung Rotevatn (33), there is only one opportunity for a seat in the Storting next year. The ministerial stool may expire in the autumn. The deputy leader will then be without a permanent national political foothold if he does not come to the Storting. He became Minister of Climate and Environmental Protection in January last year and was elected deputy head last autumn. He has one term behind him as a parliamentary representative from Sogn og Fjordane (2013–2017).

The battle between the two is about a mixture of personal battle and choice of direction. Some present as a dispute between Bergen Venstre and Unge Venstre on the one hand and the rest of Hordaland Venstre on the other.

Others believe it is first and foremost a generational change.

Parliamentary deputy Terje Breivik is no stranger to using the guitar politically. Photo: Pedersen, Terje / NTB scanpix

Two slightly different directions

In addition to the fact that the two have different ages, they represent slightly different wings in the party.

Rotevatn was born in Nordfjordeid in Sogn og Fjordane, but is referred to as an “urbanist” by people in the inner parts of Hordaland. He currently lives in Oslo.

He started his national political career as leader of the Young Left. In contrast to Breivik, he wanted the Liberal Party to rule with the FRP, he is for legalization of drugs, for active euthanasia and voluntary surrogacy. Rotevatn was also one of the proponents of banning the fur industry.

Breivik’s political career started in the municipal council in Ulvik where he was born, raised and still lives. From 1995 to 2001 he was mayor of the municipality. He is to a greater extent than Rotevatn is concerned with emphasizing the party’s struggle for entrepreneurs, agriculture and districts.

Both are for the EU, but Breivik does not want the party to “push” the issue.

Hordalending «by heart and soul»

– I am hordalending “by heart and soul,” says Breivik.

– Why do you not step aside to pave the way for a young, new deputy?

– When the party has replaced the entire party leadership, I think it may be wise to take advantage of the network and the knowledge I have gained after eight years in a position of power in the Storting, he says. Breivik mentions an extensive network locally, regionally and nationally in many sectors – everything from climate and green technology to cultural life.

He also believes that he can help to make the Liberal Party’s district and agricultural policy visible.

The Liberal Party’s parliamentary leader states that he has been contacted by many who ask him quietly for the third time. And he adds that he as a grandfather may be “more motivated than ever” to get something done quickly enough with the climate threat and to preserve nature.

Rotevatn: Do a better job as deputy chair of the Storting

Rotevatn believes the county team should choose him over Breivik because he has shown that he can get support for the Liberal Party and communicate them in a good way. He is also a good election campaign politician who knows the county well, he believes.

He denies that he and Breivik stand for different political directions.

– I can probably count on one hand the times we have disagreed, says Rotevatn.

True: Once upon a time there was the question of whether the Liberal Party should rule with the FRP. Rotevatn points out that then agreed with the majority in the party and the national government. Sitting as a perpetual support party did not make a good enough impact, he says.

– In 2012, Breivik was nominated for first place from Hordaland as the newly elected deputy chairman. Do you think he should let you have the same advantage in your work as a deputy?

– I have respect for the fact that he wants to be in the Storting. Then I have no doubt that I can do a better job as deputy chairman if I am part of a parliamentary group. But no one has the right to a seat in the Storting, not even a deputy leader.

Sveinung Rotevatn is Minister of Climate and Environment in the Solberg government. He has recently presented the government’s climate plan. Photo: Berit Roald

Bergen Venstre: The deputy leader should sit in the Storting

Local team leader Anders Kristoffer Oppheim in Breivik’s home municipality Ulvik, places the greatest emphasis on Breivik having a connection to inner Hordaland.

– The slightly older ones would rather have “the old Left”, while the younger ones are more for the liberal than we prefer. But I put most emphasis on the fact that we want our husband in there, he says.

Bergen Venstre supported Rotevatn in the leadership battle and supports him now as well.

– For us, it is important to support the central party organization, and the 1st deputy leader should have the platform form of sitting in the Storting, says local team leader Heine Johansen.


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