When Margit Martinsen was 17, she was going to participate in her first national political meeting. She had been looking forward to what was going to be a disappointment for several months.
– I was taken to a party with only adults drinking alcohol. I tried really hard to participate in the conversations, but I felt small and out of place, Martinsen says.
She ended up alone in her room, hungry and afraid to go out and get food because she was so uncomfortable outside the door.
At the time, Martinsen was a member of Unge Venstre. Today, she has switched to the Green Party (MDG) and spokeswoman for the youth party Grønn Ungdom.
She is not specifically critical of the left, but believes this is a problem for Norwegian politics in general. The general secretary of the Liberal Party told NRK that it was a shame that Martinsen had had such an experience with them.
– Of course it doesn’t have to be like that. At the same time, I think the vast majority of those involved in our events feel well taken care of, says Frederick Carstens.
It is legal to enjoy alcohol at a Venstre event if you are over 18 years old. Minors have wrist bands that show they are under 18 years of age.
He says the party has guidelines that everyone should be moderate with alcohol at party events, and that they have sobriety guards and security guards present.
It requires a culture change
There was one thing Margit had been looking forward to during her first national meetings: turning 18, so she could drink and take part in the back-room discussions and decisions.
It now views this as a democratic problem that the parties must take seriously.
– At parties, there is a lot of networking and lobbying. It’s quick then to include those who don’t drink, says Martinsen.
It is calling for a cultural change across the entire political line.
National councils are the basis of democracy. What is decided here affects politics for decades to come. When this fermented ball of National Meeting season is over, the parties must look at how we can do better next time.
wanted to get alkonekt with MDG
For several years, Grønn Ungdom had tried to make the National Millennium Development Goals meeting alcohol-free, but it was unheard of for the father party.
This year, he took a more moderate approach than blanket bans, getting approval for, among other things, a “white hour” after the meeting’s end.
Martinsen saw that many people had made fun of this on social media.
It should be clear that politics is a field in which inclusion should be more important than drinking, says Martinsen.
– I’m a little disappointed that the somewhat moderate alcohol restrictions in the MDGs have been raised as problematic.
The alcohol rules came into force when the National Council met in Fornebu outside Oslo this weekend.
NRK noted that the queue for the bar grew quickly long after the white hour was over on the first day of the meeting.
– We have worked well and for a long time to avoid a culture of filling in the blanks at our national meetings, says party secretary Torkel Wiederhose.
He believes that the comprehensive ban that the youth party wants will be very strict.
We are concerned with balance. In Norway, says Wiederhos, alcohol is a legal drug.
He says they got good feedback about the alcohol-free zones they set up during this year’s national meeting.
The youngest participant is 15 years old
As a spokesperson, Martinsen is responsible for minors at the National Millennium Development Goals meeting.
– I wish the meeting was completely alcohol-free, but I feel it’s safe and easy to maintain control here. We have our own alcohol free rooms, and no one must appear drunk during the main party on Saturday.
Martinsen’s youngest responsible participant is 15 years old. In the past, there were young people as young as 13 years old. She says she supports other youth party leaders who are working for a better culture of alcohol at parents’ parties.
– I know that other youth party leaders put a lot of energy into making sure that everyone is having a good time and that no adults are doing anything stupid with minors.
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