Norwegian MP Heidi Nordby Lunde in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times
Heidi Nordby Lunde is a Norwegian politician and also a blogger, writer and lecturer, who regularly attends parliament since 2013 as deputy minister for Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide.
She is also popularly known as the founder of Women for porn in the 1990s. She,later became known for her blogs under the pseudonym VamPus and has been a prolific commentator, debater and writer in various media. She has worked especially with social media and user generated content since 2006. She is a member of the Conservative Party and a self-proclaimed liberal.
Heidi Nordby Lunde in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times International News Network’s Editor-in-Chief, Hatef Mokhtar spoke about the politics in Norway and freedom of religion.
The Excerpts below give us an insight into the interesting talk that followed:
Since you are a known figure in Norwegian Politics, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been a member of Parliament for one and half year and that’s my private office. I have background in IT, communications and media. Before I was elected as a member of the conservative party I was a commentator on Norwegian politics.
Though democracy is preached World wide, it still is one of the biggest global challenge we face today as it fails to function is so many countries. However, Norway has always been known for it’s democratic values and is one the World most successful democracy today. So could you tell our readers how democracy is practiced in Norway?
In many ways, I think, you see in the general political debate here, that you have many different voices, not only the voice of the political parties and politicians in the South but you also have organizations and individual voices that can be heard. It’s participatory approach we want everyone’s views and ideas on the agenda.
To understand democratic practices in Norway,you also have to look at how the political parties work with and against each other and how the media works particularly the critics. And of course interesting things happen when you look at how all of these groups come together to play an important role and that’s how the dynamics of democracy functions in Norway. It all happens through vivid political debate.
Norway is a country where human rights are upheld and gender equality is well protected, but personally how do you see the matter? Would please comment on gender equality particularly in offices? –
I think you – women in – Norway are working in a large number of offices, and we do have a high number of working women in the country as compared to other places in Europe and rest of the World. We still have some challenges in getting more women to higher in offices. However, in politics the scenaio is quite different we now have a woman Prime Minister, our Minister for Finance is also a woman. We – have women – in media organizations working on high positions, and of course this will affect how the political elites make policies and how the World looks at Norway.
What is your view on dictatorial and totalitarian regimes as currently many countries have oppressive regimes where journalists and human rights activists are jailed? As a woman, a person who has been born and bred in a democratic country what are your views?
Firstly, I don’t think Human Rights has anything to do with gender, I think human rights are important for both – genders. But you often see that gender plays an important role and that minorities in a society will always face problems – when regimes are authoritarian. Contrary to authoritarian regimes, protecting minority rights is also one of the things that are significant in a democratic setup. Because, you have to take care of all the groups that make up a society. Well, in an authoritarian regimes, you mostly see one group benefiting the most. This group enjoys the power and is always concerned about protecting its own interests. They stand for their privileges and benefits only.
Religious freedom is another issue that keeps coming under scrutiny due growing religious intolerance caused by misinformation,hatred and religious fraud. How do you see the freedom of religion in Norway?
Well, I think you not only – have -freedom of religion in Norway but actually the government gives subsidies to minority religions. We used to have the state church, but I think more importantly you can see the freedom of religion for not being religious. We have some societies in the World where you hear that you have priority of religions where you not allowed to be an atheist, you have to choose one religion, that is not freedom of religion for me. Freedom of religion also means that religion is not part of your everyday practice and your everyday work.
As we are a Human Right’s media it is very important for us to know about your views on Human Rights, So could you please tell us what Human Rights mean to you?Human rights means expressing your free will and personality without being pressed for whoever and whatever you might be.I think when one is pressed, it takes away their dynamic qualities, innovations and new ways of thinking.People must be free to think whatever they want and also that the ideas must be debated and the best of them will survive. So you also have competitions in democracies when you have human rights – individual interests are taken care of.
The rise in extremism is one of the biggest challenges in Europe and Scandinavia. How do you define extremism as there are too many terminologies associated to this term such as political extremism, Islamic extremism, and religious extremism? What’s your point of view on this?
Well, first of all, first of all, extremism is not new, and I think you have had terrorist attacks and-extremism in the 70s and 80s as well, but we have forgotten about them. And now you see a new kind of extremism, we cannot relate to it because we don’t know that much about it, which makes people react severely. But we also had these kinds of threats during the 70s and 80s. I believe that one of the best weapons against terrorism and extremism is creating opportunities for everyone. To see to it that the individual has a job and security in their lives. You see, look at the scenario throughout Europe you have had this problem, after the international economic crisis when big cuts were made in terms of employment by companies due to lack of profits.And when you have less to share you have certain groups that will fight against each other to get whatever the little there is to share. The way to solve that is to create more opportunities which for me means that you need to have good economies, and for good economies you need to have free market economy, you have to create opportunities for people to work to start businesses, or to do what they love doing.
As you are a member of the Parliament can you tell me a little bit about the achievements of the new government?
Well its only one and a half year since the new government took over, and I think there have been too many processes that were started and we have initiated reforms.You have a huge reform on how Norway has been organized through, as many as 460 local communities that we want to reorganize and use the resources to create -services for the people rather than spending them on the offices for example. This is one particular reform we have started working on.
We have a huge police reform where are trying to get police to work more efficiently, that is yet another reform. We have a reform in health care and how the hospitals are working. We have also laid a greatest focus on schools and teachers because we need to fix the schools in order to give every child opportunities in the future. So, the government has initiated some of the reforms where these fours are worth mentioning, however the outcome will be visible in coming few years. – The results aren’t visible yet, but we are observing how Norway is organized, how you can use your resources better to create opportunities for everyone.
Some people believe that the government has lost popularity among Norwegian community, what do you think ?
I think it’s quite premature to build such a notion. – We have had examples from Sweden where Conservative government one and half year after they came in the government, it was not very popular either. But a few years later when you started to see the result of their reforms there they gained popularity because people saw that this was the change – they wanted to see. And of course that is one of the things that this government need to do. We have to focus on the results rather than how much we are spending, so that people can feel safer. We are creating such a future that provides better opportunities to all.
Do you have a message you would like to give to our readers?
Well, I believe that we can see in many parts of the World the battle for democracy, for freedom of speech, against gender equality and minority rights is going on, and I think this will prevail. And this will be the way to go forward because if you want to secure opportunities for everyone freedom is the only way.
All Rights Reserved with The Oslo Times