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Home* News and Stories → Local elec­tions in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Local elec­tions in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Today (Mon­day, 09 Octo­ber) local elec­tions are held in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: for the 8th time sin­ce local demo­cra­cy was estab­lished in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in 2002, eli­gi­ble voters can deci­de on Longyearbyen’s poli­ti­cal deve­lo­p­ment.

Longyearbyen Lokalstyre, local elections 2023

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re: local elec­tions are held today, 09 Octo­ber – for the first time exclu­ding for­eign locals.

For a start, the local elec­tions are about local poli­tics as usu­al: traf­fic within and out­side of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, health inclu­ding ani­mal health, the housing mar­ket, port deve­lo­p­ment, eco­no­my, cul­tu­re, school, ener­gy, envi­ron­ment. Such things.

But next to all of that, the elec­tions them­sel­ves have beco­me an issue. As repor­ted pre­vious­ly, Nor­we­gi­an minis­ter of jus­ti­ce Emi­lie Mehl (Sen­ter­par­ti) has by decree dis­pos­s­es­sed for­eig­ners of their acti­ve and pas­si­ve voting rights: locals with non-Nor­we­gi­an pass­ports can only vote or run for office if they have spent at least three years in a com­mu­ni­ty on the Nor­we­gi­an main­land and if they have moved direct­ly from the­re to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The­re are tho­se who have lived in main­land Nor­way for more than three years and now live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en but who have lost the­re voting rights becau­se they have lived else­whe­re bet­ween main­land Nor­way and Lon­gye­ar­by­en. “Else­whe­re” may even be Ny-Åle­sund, a place whe­re the Nor­we­gi­an flagg is flown with pri­de. The­re is at least one such case.

The new voting sys­tem did come by decree and not by low, which means that it has not been dis­cus­sed by the Nor­we­gi­an par­lia­ment (Stort­ing).

All four par­ties that now con­test in Lon­gye­ar­by­en want this to be dis­cus­sed again on a natio­nal level, and at least two out of the­se four want the decree to be rol­led back. But it is the govern­ment in Oslo who deci­des on this. The fifth local­ly acti­ve par­ty, the Nor­we­gi­an green par­ty (Mil­jø­par­ti de Grøn­ne, MdG) with­drew from the cur­rent elec­tions becau­se they do not have enough con­di­da­tes wit­hout their non-Nor­we­gi­an mem­bers.

Con­cer­ned for­eig­ners have joint forces at least loo­se­ly under the group name “unwan­ted for­eig­ners”, try­ing to get seen and heard on a poli­ti­cal level. The­re are seve­ral hundred of them, some­thing near one third of tho­se who were eli­gi­ble to vote on pre­vious occa­si­ons. Many of them have been living in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for many years, some grew up the­re and some have child­ren who visit kin­der­gar­ten and school the­re now. Pret­ty much all of them feel like second-class citi­zens now.

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last modification: 2023-10-09 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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