New Party Leader: Color Red

New Party Leader: Color Red

– I am very worried because the turnout is so low, he says.

If Rødt had more say in Norwegian politics, he would give voters power, power over hospitals and large grocery chains.

At an extraordinary national meeting in Rødt next Friday, an interim party leader is expected to be formally elected as party leader, succeeding Bjørnar Moxnes, who resigned last autumn.

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In between preparations for May 17, he is also working on his first major National Assembly speech.

– I want Rødt to take the lead in protecting, promoting and renewing democracy. It will be a key political issue for Rødt, he tells VG ahead of the national meeting.

– Is there a tinge of red in democratizing Norway as you say now?

– It is 110 percent red. I spent 12 years in the red leadership and, along with many others, built the party as it is now. I hope I can continue, and make the Red Age, says Martinussen.

Standing behind: Mimir Kristjansson wanted to be in the picture when VG met party leader Martinussen wearing bread on May 16. He wanted the post of vice-president but was contested on the electoral committee by his partner Sofie Marhaug. Photo: Helge Mikkelsen

Fight for the right to vote

She worries that people's government will not come automatically:

– After all, we have extended the right to vote over the years. It must be remembered that in 1814 only 10 percent of the population could vote. After all, the Eidsvoll Assembly was not a place where men gathered to grant the right to vote to all Norwegian citizens. He says it took more than 100 years.

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– The women's movement and the labor movement fought from below for all the extensions that ensured that everyone over the age of 18 could now vote in elections. But I think a lot of people avoid voting because they don't think the ballot means anything, or anything, that's important to them. As a result, non-voters will affect the outcome of the election, says Martinussen.

Rød Ungdom Riot

– Many may not associate Rødt's ideology with democracy and free elections?

– In 2014, the first National Assembly after I was elected Vice-President, the National Assembly decided to renew the Program of Principles to affirm democratic socialism by the people in free elections. In 2019, the program wrote that the importance of parliamentarism as a form of government, where elected representatives have control over government. This profile was very important to me and has been our site ever since.

– Do you have to face opposition in your own party about this? Is Rød Ungdom's new administration uninterested in popular government?

– Rød Ungdom has some unfortunate consequences. I had to go out and clarify how we see democracy and how you refer to others in a social debate. Now I feel that Rød Ungdom stood behind my message. They have apologized for their actions, said the importance of democracy, and now we can go there.

Fight for the right to vote: In Norway everyone over the age of 18 has the right to vote, but not to decide key parts of society, Marie Snave Martinussen points out. Photo: Helge Mikkelsen

Relinquished power

The incoming Rødt leader believes that politicians have relinquished power in important areas of society.

– The right, often supported by the Labor Party, has shifted power away from popular government and reduced the value of the ballot.

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Now she and Rott want to give voters back power over hospitals and big grocery chains.

– In Norway we don't have absolute monarchs, but we do have absolute owners with control over food supply chains, who make huge profits from staples. Now three major players dominate. For example, I believe we should use political power to break up Norgeskruppen so they can't own the Kiwi food chain, says Martinussen.

Not by choice

He describes his own frustration as a parliamentary representative at not being able to influence the structure of the hospital:

– The majority of Hells Nord's board was not elected by the people of Northern Norway. The majority in the Storting have delegated hospitals and maternity services to a small group of people in the health system's boardrooms. The ABC clinic in Ullewal, where I delivered my children, has closed down. He says that we have decided that there will be a maternity service in Kristiansund, but that is not happening.

State Bank

Rødt has another example that irritates the leadership candidate:

– For most people in Norway we don't have state banks. DnB is state-owned, but partially privatized by the Storting. Now they raise the interest rate and earn crores. Interest rate limits Norges Bank, but we need a state bank that does not take large amounts, which means people are less able to afford it. He asks that Husbanken be made such a bank that offers reasonable interest rates to people.

flag bearer Rødt advisor Eirik Vold confirmed that incoming Rødt president Marie Sneve Martinussen has a May 17 flag. Photo: Helge Mikkelsen / V.G

Corona stopped the law

– What did Rode do to strengthen and improve people's government during his seven years in the Storting?

– The Solberg government will introduce a corona law that will take power away from elected representatives in the Storting. We stopped it along with other parties. We have ensured that the Civil Ombudsman can still access government documents. Martinussen explains that we have received approval from the government to investigate how we prevent wealthy donors from making contributions to political parties anonymously.

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Joshi Akinjide

Joshi Akinjide

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