HOTEL BRISTOL (VG) FRP top Terje Søviknes asks the Conservatives to “learn from the bang” that the bourgeois side has taken, and blames the decline on cooperation with KrF and the Liberal Party.
Gabriel Aas Skålevik (photo)
When the forecast for the election came and indicated a decline of between three and four percentage points for Frp, and a clear red-green victory, the party’s 2nd deputy leader rushed straight into the back room, followed by four press advisers with funny eyes.
But when Søviknes came out barely five minutes later, and gave VG its first comment on the forecast, the tone was tentatively positive.
– We started the election campaign in the seventh century, and are now at around eleven. We have had a formidable election campaign with wind in the sails all the way into the final sprint. We can use this election result to strengthen ourselves as the clearest opposition party until 2025.
– We have said all along that the collaboration we had with the Conservatives in 2013–2017 was a popular government.
– Can you have a new binding collaboration with the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats?
– Our preferred collaboration has been, and will be, the Conservatives and the FRP together in government. The lesson for the Conservatives must be that when they collaborated with us, things went significantly better for them. Now, when they have collaborated with the Liberal Party and KrF, they go on an ugly bang. They did the same in 2005, when they had a similar constellation, says Søviknes.
– A strong FRP to the right of the Conservatives is good for both the Conservatives and the FRP, he adds.
After 67.4 percent of the votes have been counted, the party stands at 11.7 percent – down 3.5 percent compared to the election in 2017.
Prosecco in the back room
On election night, the sumptuous buffet, with monkfish and truffle mashed potatoes as the highlight, could indicate a full party; and in the back room, the Prosecco bottle stood on ice in the back room.
But even before the numbers began to tick in, Søviknes had realized that there could hardly be any re-entry into government.
– All opinion polls indicate that there can be no government participation. So now we will focus on ourselves and become a clearer opposition party, Søviknes told VG earlier in the evening.
Søviknes says the next few years will be about building up the grassroots in the party.
– In recent decades, we have built up a lot of management expertise, but historically we have been strong in opposition, says the former Minister of Petroleum and Energy.
Søviknes believes the party’s period in power can be divided into two: Before and after the four-party government on the bourgeois side.
– From 2013–2017, we thrived very well in government, and were able to make visible the difference between us and the Liberal Party and KrF, he says.
– But when the two entered government, all the compromises became difficult, Søviknes states.
The Liberal Party joined the blue government in January 2018, while KrF joined one year later. So, on January 24, 2020, the FRP had had enough.
The reason was that the government had brought home a terrorist woman IS from Syria. The FRP took dissent in government, but it was not enough for many in the party, and the case eventually became the drop that made the cup overflow.
– No new agreements
The party’s first deputy leader, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, says the party still hopes that there can be a new government participation, but that one should in any case enter a phase where one is not «bound by agreements».
– There will be no new binding agreements where we negotiate away our positions. It was perceived as a coercive thing, says Solvik-Olsen to VG.
– The lesson for the Conservatives should be that they did relatively well in government with just us, even though we both got a slight decline. But now it can lead to a landslide, and it did so when they ruled with the Liberal Party and KrF in 2005, he continues.
– So if we lose this election, then the Conservatives should learn from it, and bet that the Conservatives and the FRP together form a government in 2025.
May lose space
FRP’s immigration policy spokesman, Jon Helgheim, is among those in the FRP who can resign from the Storting. And the central board member is even clearer in his criticism of the Liberal Party and KrF.
– It has been nice not to be in government with the Liberal Party and KrF, but it will be even more nice when we are not bound by platforms from the six years in government, Helgheim says to VG.
This is Helgheim’s recipe: FRP must become even clearer in opposition. That means even further to the right.
– We learned a good deal in government, especially that one must set clearer boundaries. A bit of the mistake was that they did not put their foot down even more clearly against the Liberal Party and KrF, says Helgheim.
– What do you do if you yourself fall out of the Storting?
– It’s getting sour, I’m still very motivated. But there are jobs where you can both make more money and work less.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this case stated that Frp had Champagne ready in the back room. But the correct thing is that the bottle contains Prosecco, says Frp’s communications department. The correction was submitted on 13 September at 20.35.