“In Norway as in Europe, social democracy is reconnecting with its roots”

Former foreign minister (2005-2012), Jonas Gahr Store, 61, elected to the leadership of the Labor Party (Arbeiderpartiet) in 2014, was appointed prime minister on October 14. The Social Democrats, who remained in the opposition for eight years, are returning to power after having won, with the centrists, the legislative elections a month earlier. Mr. Gahr Store campaigned against inequality and for continued oil and gas exploitation.

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You seemed very moved by presenting, within your government, your ministers of education and industry, who both survived the attack of July 22, 2011, on the island of Utoya, committed by Anders Breivik and which made 69 victims, 77 with the explosion of the bomb in Oslo.

It was indeed a very moving moment, for me personally, for my party, but also for my country. By attacking Utoya, the terrorist wanted to kill the Social Democratic Party. That was his goal, he wrote it in his manifesto. These two ministers, who are in their thirties and are among the most brilliant in the political scene, show that he has not succeeded. Democracy won. Not everyone who was in Utoya pursued politics. But this generation knows what democracy means and has paid the price.

For the first time since 2001, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland will be ruled by social democrats. This could soon be the case for Germany. Is this the return of social democracy in Europe?

Olaf Scholz’s campaign [en Allemagne] and mine took place in parallel. We kept in touch by phone and week after week we saw the same trend: we managed to remind our voters that the identity of our parties is to defend the interests of the workers – the workers, the wage earners, the people with low incomes. I believe that what we are observing, in Norway as in Europe, is a social democracy which is reconnecting with its roots and rediscovering its relevance, a modern social democracy.

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We know how to collaborate with the social partners. This tripartite model plays an essential role in the transition of our societies. The right says it means less flexibility and adaptation. We say that modernity is the sharing of responsibilities in a society in transition. Job security and the defense of workers’ rights do not reduce flexibility. This is the source. It is no coincidence that the social democratic parties in the Nordic countries and in Germany are at the forefront: the welfare state is a European invention, of Nordic and German inspiration. I think we are breaking out of a certain impasse.

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