Red Party (Norway)
|Founded||11 March 2007(11 years ago)|
|Merger of||Red Electoral Alliance and Workers' Communist Party|
Dronningens Gate 22|
|Youth wing||Red Youth|
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The Red Party (Bokmål: Rødt, Nynorsk: Raudt, Northern Sami: Ruoksat) is a Norwegian far-left political party and the leading party to the left of the Socialist Left Party in Norway. The party was founded in March 2007 by a merger of the Workers' Communist Party and the Red Electoral Alliance. Bjørnar Moxnes is the Red Party's current leader.
Red states that a classless society is its ultimate goal in its own official political program. They further specify that "this is what Karl Marx called communism". The label is a result of many of the party's leading members promoting communist values, either currently or previously; notable examples are Erling Folkvord and former party leader, Torstein Dahle. The party's main principles are based on replacing capitalism with a socialist society, including a strong public sector and nationalization of large businesses, while its core ideology espouses the revolutionary socialist aims for "the workers" to "take the power", and the creation of new legislatures. The party however makes clear that it does not support violent "armed revolution" formerly espoused by its predecessors.
Red has 10 county council representatives nationwide and 80 municipal representatives. In the 2013 parliamentary election, it was the largest party which failed to win a seat. The party entered parliament in the 2017 election, winning 2.4% of the votes and its first seat ever in the Storting. The last time a far-left party had representation in the Storting was when its predecessor party, the Red Electoral Alliance, won a seat in the 1993 election.
Ideology and positions
Red is a far-left party like both of its predecessors, the Red Electoral Alliance and the Workers' Communist Party. It favours the welfare state and high taxation upon the wealthy as a means of tackling continuing inequality in Norway. Since its formation, notable groups have merged with the party, the most notable example of this being the Trotskyist International Socialists. The party consists of various internal factions, including the Trotskyists, Marxist-Leninists, and democratic socialists.
One of Red's important projects is protecting the Norwegian welfare state, calling for the government to spend 30-40 billion NOKs on the public sector to counter the financial crisis. Red politician Mimir Kristjansson claimed that the "right wing parties have proved their willingness to dismantle the very foundation of our welfare state". According to him, the socialist parties, along with the Norwegian Labour Party, need to be forced into a policy which strongly protects the welfare model for the poor.
The 2009 election results, which were regarded as disappointing, led to some turmoil within the party, with some members wanting the party to move ideologically closer to the Socialist Left Party.
After being challenged on the party's position on liberal democracy in 2012, party leader Moxnes wrote in Aftenposten that "free speech, freedom of association, free elections, free media, and independent courts that guarantee rule of law for individuals are fundamental for a socialistic society".
In its official political program, the party says that its ultimate goal is a classless society, which it describes as "what Karl Marx called communism", and that "the Red Party bases its understanding of society on Marxist theory". In 2014, there was large support within the party to highlight the communist revolutions in China and in Russia as "positive", with half the committee drafting the program supporting an early draft that stated this, although it was ultimately decided that it would not be included in the final program.
Red was founded on 7 March 2007, in a merger of the Red Electoral Alliance and the Workers' Communist Party. The two parties had shared the same history for decades, because the Workers' Communist Party founded the Red Electoral Alliance as an electoral party that would promote communist and socialist values. During the national convention held by the Red Electoral Alliance, a faction within the party stated it would support the merger of the two parties if any references to communism in the new party program would be removed.
During a secret meeting between the leading staff of both parties on 5 March, a vote was held, with most members supporting the merger. The Workers' Communist Party was official dissolved in April 2007. During the party's first national convention, three names were considered: Red Choice, Solidarity, and Red Cloth. When founded, the party saw it as its main mission to fill "the void" between it and the Red-Green Coalition. When talking about the party program, Torstein Dahle said:
|“||We will bring up issues which have broad agreement among the people of Norway, but are unfortunately not reflected in the other parties' policies.||”|
Torstein Dahle was unanimously elected party leader by members of the Workers' Communist Party and the Red Electoral Alliance in February 2007. This was met with criticism by outsiders, who claimed that Dahle would not be able to lead the party in a "new direction". The then leader of the Workers' Communist Party, Ingrid Baltzersen, was elected the party's Deputy Leader.
On 23 July 2007, Dahle became subject to media attention when he said that the Taliban and other Afghan rebels had the full right to fight Norwegian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The attention occurred only days later with the death of a Norwegian army officer in the Logar Province as a Norwegian military unit came under hostile fire. Dahle later replied to the criticism, saying that he did not support the death of Norwegian military personnel.
When planning for the 2007 local elections, the party thought it had a realistic chance of gaining the mayorship in three municipalities. During the local elections, the party was forced to campaign under the banner of the Red Electoral Alliance, as the Election Committee had not approved its new name.
Election researcher Bernt Aardal believed that Red would be able win votes from voters who usually voted for the Socialist Left Party. The reasoning behind this was that the Socialist Left became part of the ruling Red-Green Coalition, and would constantly need to make compromises with the two other parties in the coalition. When confronted with his research, he replied, "This is not a large voter group. We've looked at some polls in the past that RV would give the party one or two seats in Parliament. It is difficult to say whether the new party will make a difference."
After experiencing what many described as a bad election, Trond Andresen, a leading political figure within the party, resigned. He claimed the party was going in a downward spiral and would meet the same fate as the Communist Party of Norway if it did not re-new its image. Among several known candidates that officially announced or were rumoured to be candidates for Party Leader were Bjørnar Moxnes, Mona Bjørn, Asgeir Drugli, Mimir Kristjansson, and Ingeborg Steinholt.
Turid Thomassen was voted in as party leader of Red in May 2010. Thomassen has long experience from both the Workers' Communist Party and the Red Electoral Alliance. The former leader of Red Youth (2004-2006), Bjørnar Moxnes, became deputy leader.
Bjørnar Moxnes was elected party leader in May 2012.
The party's youth wing is Red Youth, which was founded in 1963, preceding the foundations of the Red Electoral Alliance and the Workers' Communist Party. The current leader of the youth wing is Linn-Elise Øhn Mehlen. Red Youth was highly supportive of the merging of the Red Electoral Alliance and the Communist Party, with Sandra Johansen, leader of Red Youth in Brønnøysund, claiming "it to have been difficult to be a youth party under two different parent parties".
Former Deputy Leader of the Red Electoral Alliance Marte Mjøs Persen left the party, believing there was a big generational gap between the older and younger members of Red. She further claimed that only the older members, who have their origins from the foundation of the Red Electoral Alliance and the Workers' Communist Party, controlled the party. Persen's statements were met with positive response by fellow party members and outsiders. Mathias Furevik, who had served as Dahle's campaign manager, agreed with her accusations. Bergen City Council representative, Stine Akre, reluctantly agreed with Persen's accusations, and said: "Red is now a party for middle-aged men, and has not been able to get rid of the generation gap. It also means that many younger people will get burned out before they move the party's direction." Persen shortly after joined the Norwegian Labour Party.
Election history and polls
In the 2007 county election, Red won 2.1% of the votes. After the 2007 county elections, Knut Henning Thygesen became the party's first and only mayor elected through a direct mayor election in the municipality of Risør. In the local 2011 county elections, the party won 1.7% of the votes. In the 2009 parliamentary election, the result was 1.3%, giving the party no seats in the parliament. The party came closest to winning a seat in Oslo, where it took nearly 4% of the vote.
Electoral researcher Bernt Aardal noted that the Red Party would have won a single seat in Oslo, had it not been for the fact that the voting system is designed to ensure that more MPs come from rural areas. The Oslo constituency was considered to be where the party had its best chance of gaining a seat in the 2013 parliamentary election, but they once again failed to win any seats. In 2017, the party broke through in Oslo with party leader Moxnes being elected for the first time.
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