The Queen of Madla


COMMENT: Nobody likes the Labor Party, but a lot of people love Kari. On Saturday, the Queen of Madla came home to her own. Can she get the injured eagle back on its wings?

There is little doubt who is the star when there is an annual meeting in Stavanger Ap. Photo: Jarle Aasland
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  • The Stavanger Labor Party held its annual meeting on Saturday, where there was great anticipation linked to the speech from Kari Nessa Nordtun, who was referred to as the ‘Queen of Madla’.
  • Nessa Nordtun has become a hot name in the party and is compared to Trond Giske, another ideologue in the party, but also a far more controversial figure. The difference is that Nessa Nordtun sits in the current government.
  • While the Labor Party is struggling nationally, Stavanger Ap managed to achieve 10.5 percent above the national average in the local elections in 2023, which is partly credited to the popular mayor Nessa Nordtun.
  • Will she be able to succeed Jonas Gahr Støre as party leader? However, it is also possible that expectations may be wildly exaggerated.

This is a comment. Commentaries are written by Aftenbladet’s commentators, editors and guest commentators, and express their own opinions and analyses.

There was – quite literally – a buzz through the room. On the second floor of the Hotel Victoria, which must be called a former grandeur, the representatives of another former grandeur gathered. They were waiting for the first speeches of the day. But she wasn’t there.

In the slightly too narrow and slightly too warm room, under the chandeliers, in a room characterized more by the aesthetics of the bourgeoisie than by co-operation and everyone must join, they waited for the Queen of Madla. Yes, that’s how she was introduced. It was the annual meeting of the Stavanger Labor Party.

And when she rushed into the room, the manuscript of the speech in hand, a clear sigh of relief escaped the delegates.

Kari and Voldemort

“In recent years, the Stavanger Labor Party and the party’s city council group have become the party’s most important political workshop”. These are not my words, but a refrain that has begun to circulate in the party. Perhaps to the irritation both in the headquarters at Youngstorget in Oslo and in a rapidly growing party team that is built around the party’s own Voldemort VoldemortThe evil wizard who is the main antagonist of Harry Potterthe ideologue Trond Giske in Nidaros.

Currently, it is the fallen and scandalized Giske, and the fast-rising star Kari Nessa Nordtun, who pursue ideology in the Labor Party. But unlike Giske, Nessa Nordtun actually sits in the government.

Big in Bergen

And she is so into the wind. The speculation runs in the party, and it runs in the press. If she wants to be in the Storting, there is no one who will be able to stand in her way. Does she want to join the party leadership? Some have even proclaimed her the leading candidate to replace party leader Jonas Gahr Støre. She who has not even sat in the Storting. It shows how the Kari fever has gripped people that this latest proposal actually came from a Bergen.

While Ap is declining and declining in popularity on a national level, Stavanger Ap clocked in 10.5 percent above the national average in the local elections last year. Then Støre called. Maybe he should have called a little earlier?

The ideologue from Madla

Free after-school for third graders. Free school meals. Free bus. And what about cell phone bans at school? Or how about having a real argument with Erna Solberg about changes to the Kindergarten Act? Take a fight to preserve the common school? Or why not require all Norwegian youth to serve a year of community service?

What these proposals have in common is not that they are feasible. Some of them probably aren’t. But that they are ideological. That they raise questions that are worth discussing. That they provoke real political differences of opinion.

Kari and the boys

Only seven percent of young men under the age of 25 say they vote for Ap. 58 percent of them voted for either the Conservative Party or the Progressive Party. These figures should scare the living daylights out of the strategists in the leadership of the Labor Party. Something Voldemort in Nidaros has reminded them of.

Can Kari Nessa Nordtun help reverse this trend? Representative Myrhol went to the podium to claim that. Old AUF member Frode Myrhol has returned home after a few years in toll mode.

Myrhol’s hope is shared by many in the party. That a focus on more practical subjects in school, to take one example, should appeal to male voters. That the party should find a way back to those who do not have a more or less self-produced master’s degree. A commitment to professional education. 90,000 more skilled workers are needed in Norway by 2035.

Desperate hope?

Is this violent virus around Kari Nessa Nordtun a sign of health? Not necessarily. It can also be an expression of desperation. The belief that individuals can step in and sort things out is almost always wildly exaggerated. And Voldemort in Nidarios is absolutely right that there is a crisis in the party, not just in the party leadership.

The question the party strategists in Ap should ask themselves is whether it would have been noticed if the party disappeared. What would be missing? The answer, right now, is “not so much.” Too much of Ap’s policy is confusingly similar to that of other parties. Who is not in favor of “most people” (whoever that is) getting better advice?

It is not a natural law that Norway should have a large social democratic party. I am among those who believe that it is actually difficult to achieve without social democratic ideology.


Published: February 3, 2024 1:05 p.m

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Queen Madla


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