Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Muslim in a Ministerial Position

In a cabinet reshuffle yesterday, Prime Minister Stoltenberg provided Modern Multicultural Norway with its first Muslim cabinet minister — as Minister of Culture.

Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer has translated an article about this historic event. The translator includes this note:

Norway has gotten its first token immigrant/Muslim government minister. That happened on Friday after a cabinet reshuffle.

According to this article the Labour Party is desperately trying to attract more immigrant votes. This is not really breaking news, but nevertheless the study highlighted in this article seems to corroborate this fact.

It’s strange that the Labour Party is appointing a member from the immigrant community considering, that there was a big hoo-ha in 2011 when about a dozen or so immigrant candidates were elected to represent the Oslo chapter of the Labour Party. The Norwegian candidates were up in arms because they felt that they were being squeezed out. They even suggested implementing changes that would limit the number on immigrant candidates in leading positions.

But I guess as long as the buffoons in the Labour Party get the immigrant vote, they can allow one of them to climb up to their own ranks. If the number becomes too high, however, they will more than likely put up a stink.

The translated article from Aftenposten:

A Strategic choice to appoint Tajik

By appointing Hadia Tajik as a government minister the Labour party has tightened its grip on the votes of non-Western immigrants.

In an upcoming study, Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo Tor Bjørklund and his colleague Johannes Bergh have found that the attack on July 22 has resulted in an even stronger support for the Labour Party among voters from the specific group ‘non-Western immigrants’.

The appointment of Hadia Tajik as minister of Culture is a strategic choice by the Labour Party, says Bjørklund.

“The fact that Tajik is now in the cabinet is a message that there are eyes within the Labour Party that look into the future. Alert strategists have discovered that the ‘voter group’ non-Western immigrants is growing. This particular group has always had a soft spot for the Labour Party,” says Bjørklund.

A boost after July 22

His research of the municipal elections in 2011 shows that support for the Labour Party among non-Western immigrants has increased compared with the 2007 election.

Back then the party had approximately a 50 percent support among this group, while in 2011 this support climbed to 64 percent. The survey shows that many voters among this group left SV (socialist left) in favour of the Labour Party.

“One would expect after a series of immigration-critical initiatives that the Labour party would face some problems in the 2011 election, but then July 22 happened. And we have noticed that the effect of the attack was greatest among non-Western immigrants. They felt that July 22 affected them more than ethnic Norwegians. And these voters chose to vote for the Labour Party,” says Bjørklund.

Record numbers of individuals with non-Western backgrounds were elected in the municipal elections and this was felt most strongly within the Labour Party.

“It was a reminder of the disputed issues of multicultural Norway. The Labour Party was a victim, and shared a common fate with the immigrants. Many of those who died on Utøya had immigrant backgrounds, and when the various Ministers from the Labour Party read eulogies at funerals this impression was reinforced,” says Bjørklund.

“More visible”

Bjørklund points out that the Labour Party has long struggled to find a leading representative of non-Norwegian ethnic background:

  • Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen was appointed in October 2008 as Minister of children and Equality, but had to resign after only four months.
  • Saera Kahn had to resign from Parliament in 2008 when it was uncovered that she had called clairvoyant services from her Parliament office.

“Ramin-Osmundsen was not a typical representative from the immigrant community. Hadia Tajik, however, represents the second generation of immigrants. This appointment is a signal that the party intends to include this growing constituency in the party’s most important positions. Outwardly this is very noticeable. A minister of culture constantly appears in the media and the culture aspect can be a link between minorities and Norwegians,” says Bjørklund.

Untapped resource

Non-Western immigrants have previously been part of the “sofa voters”. Bjørklund believes that they are now on their way up and heading for the polling stations, and this could be significant.

In other countries there are numerous examples of immigrant groups determining the election. In Norway this group is growing — and it is an untapped resource and the Labour Party has understood this, he says. Bjørklund has studied minorities and elections since 1995. He and Bergh were commissioned by the Ministry of Integration to study the municipal elections in 2011.

The Norwegian Bureau of Statistics carried out the survey.