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The crisis game – poker or chicken? February 1, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political economy , add a comment

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten had an interesting report before the weekend about the games surrounding the Norwegian government relief packages. They compare the gamchickene now played between the government and the banks. On one side of the table we have Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour), and on the other we have the major bank managers, represented by Nordea CEO Gunn Wærsted. Each has three visible cards: a 7, Jack and Ace. The analogy might not be brilliant and ingenious, but it describes the game in a simillar manner to the game theories of Political Economy. (more…)

Norway goes Keynesian January 26, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political economy , 1 comment so far

keyneshalvorsenThe ongoing finance crisis has certainly given classic Keynesianism a new boost. And few countries have embraced this as clearly as Norway did today. The center-left government under Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg from Labour (Arbeiderpartiet) and Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen from the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) introduced a massive expansion package aimed at combating unemployment.

The package expands the national budget directly with about 2o billion NOK (roughly 2.2 billion € or 2.86 b$), with nearly 17 billions increased expenditure and over 3 billion worth of tax cuts. With secondary effects, the government estimates a total expansive effect of 27 billion NOK, reducing the substantial oil-boosted government surplus. When correcting for petroleum-based offshore income, the government now estimates a government deficit of 119 billion NOK for 2009. This sums up to an expansion of the oil-corrected government budget of 2.3%, substantially higher than the 1.5% goal set by the EU. (more…)

Who votes for Fremskrittspartiet? October 27, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political behavior , 1 comment so far

Norwegian media today references a survey conducted by Norstat for Norwegian State Broadcasting (NRK) that shows that voters for the Norwegian party Fremskrittspartiet (The Progress Party) are more diverse than voters of other Norwegian parties. This corresponds quite well with a paper I wrote for a class in advanced statistics, analyzing the FrP voter based on data from the European Social Survey (ESS).

I analyzed the FrP voters according to the so-called “FrP code” presented by Norwegian Author Magnus Marsdal in the influential book FrP-koden. He claims that the success of FrP can be explained by the tension between a left-oriented cultural elite and a group of disgruntled voters identifying themselves with working class values. These are perceived to have little education and a low income, to be xenophobic and sceptical to the government and people in power. Marsdal employs mostly univariate analysis and anecdotal evidence to support these claims. I performed a regression analysis, testing these and a few other hypotheses, concluding that both low education, low age, scepticism to government and scepticism to immigration seems to increase probability of voting FrP. However, the tests of statistical reliability indicate that there are groups of voters that are very poorly predicted by these indicators, appraently voting FrP for some other, unexplained reasons. (more…)

Norwegian media loves Obama, but doesn’t hate McCain September 30, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election , add a comment

As I wrote about some days ago, I’ve been gathering data on the Norwegian media coverage of the US Presidential Election. I’m now up to date with all registering of data, and have taken a little more time to analyze it. With 154 registered articles, the main conclusion still stands: Norwegian media favours Barack Obama both in volume and in positivity of the coverage.

Current numbers (September 30th 2008):
Obama: 106 articles, +29 balance
McCain: 73 articles, -3 balance

It does however seem clear as well that this enthusiasm doesn’t translate into a campaign against McCain. The coverage of McCain’s campaign seems well-balanced, with the number of negatively and positively angled articles roughly balancing each other out. (more…)

Norwegian media loves Obama September 20, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election, World politics , add a comment

With an estimated 23.000 eligible American voters, it isn’t likely the American presidential election will be decided in Norway. Still, there is a great interest in it. USA’s decisions, especially with regards to the economy and foreign policy affect the entire world. This year I’ve started my own little informal and quasi-scientific research project to see how Norwegian media covers the American election.

My hypothesis is that Norwegian media would favor any Democratic candidate very strongly over his or her Republican counterpart. I assume this to be a representation of the general opinion of the Norwegian public. I further assume that in this election, this favoritism will benefit Barack Obama greatly.

Obama McCain
# of articles 96 50
Bias points 28 4
Data extracted on: 20. september 2008

As the table above shows, the data so far supports this hypothesis quite clearly. With about 130 articles entered, the Obama campaign appears to have had about twice the coverage the McCain campaign has as counted in the number of articles. Furthermore, the amount of of positive coverage outweighs the negative coverage for both candidates, but much more so for Obama than McCain.
(more…)

“A new political culture” – the solution to old problems? August 21, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political Theory , add a comment

President of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget), Thorbjørn Jagland, this week called for a “New political culture” in Norway in a feature article in the newspaper Aftenposten. He claims that the combination of media, opinion polls and opportunist politicians have displaced the political virtues of long term and larger view thinking. In his words political leaders have been made into characters in a play organized by media and opinion polls. Political leaders no longer show the leadership necessary to enforce policies that are too complex to be explained simply to the public.

His answer to these problems:

Vi trenger en annen politisk kultur enn den mediene og mange andre har forsøkt å oppdra oss til i sommer. Vi trenger en styringsdyktig politisk kultur i stedet for en galluppreget politisk elite. Vi trenger politikere som også er i stand til å se inn i fremtiden og føre an. Hvis ikke kan en stadig økende kravmentalitet ødelegge for oss alle.

My translation:

We need a different political culture than the one the media and many others have tried to educate us about this summer. We need a political culture for leadership rather than a political elite dominated by opinion polls. We need politicians that are able to look into the future and take the lead. If not, an ever increasing mentality of demands will ruin things for us all.

This isn’t a particularly novel point. Edmund Burke warned his constituency in Bristol about leaders who were nothing but slaves to public opinion all the way back in 1774. And in 1784, James Madison stated that:

Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

It may be an old issue, but it’s an important one, and one that has become very visible in Norway over the last months. A series of cabinet ministers have come and gone – not because of their policies but because of media campaigns where they have been tricked into making blunders. Over the last few years, we have also seen the populist radical right grow bolder and more confident, gradually boosting the close combat fight over next week’s opinion polls. (more…)