An open letter to His Gorgeousness the Prime Minister

Dear Mr Stoltenberg,

Let me start by congratulating you and your colleagues on your election victory. It was hardly a surprise that the sexiest man in European politics* (I’d say the world, if it weren’t for the delectable and evermore powerful President Obama) was last night elected to a second consecutive term as the Prime Minster of Norway. Not that I think the Norwegian electorate voted for you based on your looks; they are far too sensible for that. Or are they? I don’t know, actually, not being one of them.

The fact is Mr Stoltenberg that as a 38-year-old with more degrees than some thermometers, an excellent credit rating, a clean driving license from two nations (the ones with the ‘special relationship’ in case you are interested) and a shared tax bill over the past five years residency in your great country that runs into millions of Kroner, I am not considered trustworthy enough to be a member of the Norwegian electorate.

My 17-year old neighbour, who turns 18 next month, is still at school, dates a long-haired boy with trousers that never conceal his Bjorn Borg underwear, never reads a newspaper, dresses exactly the same as every other 17-year-old girl in the country, and thinks the word 'fuck' is Norwegian for 'cool', was able to vote yesterday, but I suspect didn’t bother. This, while I, a former preschool board member, Year 2 class representative and all around upstanding member of the international community, who persists in reading Aftenposten everyday despite the absence of anything interesting to read, avails gratefully of your excellent public childcare system and feeds her daughter brown cheese on a daily basis (this alone makes me practically Norwegian by naturalisation), has no right to vote. Why is that, Mr Stoltenberg? Can it really be because the front of my passport says the word ‘Eire’ and not ‘Norge’? Isn’t that a tad petty in these times of globalisation?

You are not alone of course in denying me my democratic right. The US, Singapore and the Philippines had the same attitude towards me. Only the UK gave me a vote as a tax-paying long-term resident, a right I exercised on the day Tony Blair swept to power in 1997. Well, we all make mistakes, don’t we?

My own country doesn’t allow me to vote either, by virtue of my absence, as there is no overseas voting system for Irish citizens. However, as I haven’t lived there since 1993, the only government policies likely to affect me are taxes on airport travel and inheritance, and possibly third-level education for non-residents, I don’t feel this is in anyway unfair. I do think however, that having half my income taken in taxes in Norway (not to mention the other non-income based taxes I pay everyday while working on my considerable shopping habit) while being denied the right to vote in how these taxes are deployed within the society I live in, is frankly taking the piss.

So Mr Stoltenberg , once your victory hangover has cleared, and you have a little time on your hands, I wonder if you might consider the plight of the tax-paying foreigner so that when the next election comes around, in 2013, I might get to vote (online if news reports are to be believed). It could then be, for both of us, a case of third time lucky (assuming in the meantime that age doesn’t rob you of your good looks and I don’t decide to go pay my taxes somewhere else).


The Irish Nomad in Norway.

* I realise that Carla Bruni might not agree with this statement but I am willing to go stiletto to stiletto with her over it.


jinjir minjir said...


If this doesn't work, I have friends in Sicily. U wanna arrange a wee job maybe? Nothing too serious... of course. F.ex., we could just send (back) some nuclear waste.

Anonymous said...

You are allowed to vote in local elections but not national ones - and local politics in Norway (even in the suburbs) can be very intertaining.

Return to Norway said...

Bwhahaha you go sista!!

beaverboosh said...

Here here my dear, well said.

Let's start a quiet expat movement... wait na, lets go to the pub and winge.

I am married to a Norwegian, speak (social) Norwegian, have an excellent Norwegian family, have Norwegian businesses which pay tax and employ Norwegians that pay tax, which increases the government's wealth tax on me and I cannot vote, and they will not give me a residence visa because I have not done 250 hours of government language and culture training. Go figure.

Oh and I have a bunad!

I'd have more rights as a foreign terrorist!

marcusbeltran said...

It strikes me that there is the germ of an international movement here.

Long-term foreign residents with substantial and substantive ties to a country should absolutely have the right to vote. Further, the eventual achievement of said right would be an important step on the long road to a world without borders.

Who would've thought that the revolution would start in Norway?

And under such delectable leadership, too...

OSLO said...

Jinjir - am considering your kind offer ;)
Anonymous - I wonder what the reasoning behind giving us a local vote but not a national one is.
Thanks for your Norwegian vote Caroline :)
BB - please post photos of yourself in your Bunad. If we tie ourselves to the railings of Slottsparken, we can call ourselves Expat suffragettes.
Marcus - thanks for the visit, and more importantly the flattery. I'm a sucker for it. No sooner had I finished blushing when I realized that your name rang a bell. I'm guessing there aren't many of the same name around but you'll have to put me out of my misery - did your parents live in Manila for several years? We haven't met but I've sure heard lots about you :) Of course if you're a different MB, then foolish me. There I am - blushing again.

Anonymous1 said...

I think it's perfectly natural that you guys who are not *Norwegian nationals* don't get to vote in the *Norwegian national* elections. Why should you have that right if your not citizens? Should you chose to stay in Norway for the required 7 years and get yourself a Norwegian passport then you get the vote, not a second sooner. Why should people who are potentially just passing through (you're a self-declared "nomad", after all) get to take part in deciding the course our nation takes? Of course there's a huge difference between having an Eire passport and a Norge passport, globalization or not. If you should get a Norwegian passport, however, then you can live wherever you like in the world and always vote in the Norwegian elections, as long as you can find your way to one of our diplomatic missions. We don't make it hard for people who are actually Norwegian citizens to vote. If you should get a Norwegian passport, then you have to give up your Irish one, double citizenships aren't allowed in Norway. I use to live in Sweden, and I never expected to take part in the Swedish elections, why should I, not being Swedish. Btw: I found your description of that 17-year-old girl (who get to vote since she's got her 18th birthday during an election year) quite ageist...

OSLO said...

Anonymous 1 - I honestly don't know why you bother to read my blog at all as it seems to annoy you so much. Of course as you don't in fact give your name, I am only assuming that you are the same Anonymous1 who has commented here before. If you're not then I'm jumping to conclusions. Either way, I am considering adding a plea at the top of the Blog which reads 'Please bring your sense of humour with you when you read and comment'. The description of the 17-year old girl - WHO I MADE UP! (as my neighbours are all over 60) - was a joke to illustrate a point. It's meant to be funny as part of a light-hearted look at living in Norway as a foreigner (and former nomad). You may have a point about the citizenship issue but you sure don't know how to phrase it in a manner which would make many pay heed. I guess what I'm saying is that you, sir or madam, do not have a monopoly on getting riled.

jilly75 said...

I have to stick up for Anonymous1’s comments. OK, he/she was a bit aggressive, but they are valid points. I think your blog is topical, humorous and interesting Norway Nomad, but there’s nothing wrong with readers providing information that makes you better informed about the issue you’re writing about. You should be flattered that they are interested enough in your blog to comment on it.
And to beaverboosh, surely you understand that the point of the compulsory language hours is to give immigrants the necessary skills to integrate into Norwegian society. Yes it is possible to live and work here happily with a Norwegian spouse and speak English or ”social Norwegian” to your Norwegian family and friends, but the vast majority of immigrants need to be able to speak fluent Norwegian to get a job. Simple as that. Sorry if I sound harsh, but there's often too much of a sense of entitlement coming from some ex-pats. I'm as guilty of that as anyone - but am trying to grow out of it!