New Government Signals Changes in Northern Norway

October 8, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer Herders

Solberg_Jensen 2013Norway’s Conservative leader Erna Solberg said she would form a minority cabinet with the populist Progress Party after talks with two centrist parties broke down on Monday, giving ground on oil exploration and immigration. Solberg agreed to give up plans to drill for oil in several promising Arctic areas and also agreed to tighten asylum policies to win the support of her eventual coalition partner and the outside backing of the centrist Liberals and Christian Democrats.

“We were very close to finding good solutions… This is the second best option,” said Solberg, who is set to become Norway’s second female premier after winning elections earlier this month. “This is not the end of cooperation between the four parties.”

She now faces a difficult alliance with the right wing, anti-immigration Progress Party, which will enter government for the first time. Since it was founded in 1973, and until now, mainstream parties had considered it too radical for power. “We can’t hide the fact that we are very pleased with the immigration issues here. We have got a fairly strong tightening,” said Progress leader Siv Jensen, who is likely to become finance minister when the government takes office Oct 18.

The new coalition have signalled an intention to change their policies in northern Norway, which may impact reindeer husbandry, relations with the Sami parliament and the mining industry.

To summarise, the coalition states that they see reindeer husbandry as an important industry in Norway, ensuring food production and constituting the livelihoods of many people. They also believe the industry is a prerequisite for Sami culture and society.  The coalition wants to change the Reindeer Husbandry Act and encourage herders to become less dependent on transfers and  treat farmers and herders more in terms of taxes on their assets.

In addition, they will present a white paper that will look at the sustainability of reindeer husbandry and change the law so that ecological sustainability becomes a priority.

The coalition will preserve the Sami Parliament and maintain consultation between the Sami Parliament , the Parliament and the government. The new government believes it is important and enriching for Norway to take care of the Sami language , culture and traditions. They believe Norwegian and Sami languages ​​are equal , while they believe it is important to have a common language platform .

An area that may have sigificant impact on reindeer herders and pastures, the new government wants to intensify studies of the mineral deposits in northern Norway , and add a comprehensive management and development plan for the sustainable exploitation of natural resources in the Arctic and facilitate growth in the mineral sector , including by ensuring predictable and knowledge-based planning processes .

You can read the full document (75 pages, in Norwegian here)

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