Friday, July 11, 2008

Old news but still

On his last press conference before he took his vacation, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg spent some time whining about the lack of enthusiasm the voters have shown for the present government. Specifically, he said "The expectations put on the government far exceeds what was promised in the Soria Moria declaration. We are not compared to an alternative government, which would be the opposition, but to something close to perfection."

Is that so? Because as far as I understand it, the reason the government has taken a dive in the polls is the fact that the voters have taken the time to compare the government's performance to exactly what was promised. For example, they promised explicitly that every child should have the possibility to be enrolled in kindergarten by the end of 2007. Kristin Halvorsen even took it upon herself during the pre-election campaigning to state several times on several occasions and in several media that if the red-green coalition would be elected, she would make a personal guarantee for this promise to be fulfilled. Should for some unforseeable reason the government not make good on this, specific promise, she would leave politics altogether immediately following this improbable failure.

Well; they crapped out, and she's still here. When confronted with her now broken promise, she basically said "Yeah right; as if."

The fact is; the Soria Moria declaration was quite the lofty affair, and they were probably bound to crap out. Let's face it; they have done jack within the areas of education (of which I do not consider kindergarten to be a part) and the health section, for example. And this is what irks me; they don't have the right to complain when they fail to reach their own, self-imposed goals. The prime minister was basically saying that "Well; I'm sure the opposition wouldn't be able to live up to their promises either."

And yet they wonder and worry about the low opinion the voting public has of politicians. But maybe the circumstances have been unfavorable? Let's go down a short list of possibilities which can account for the government's inability to live up to expectations:
  • The national economy: Nope - the national economy is pretty much at an all-time high and has been for quite some time. Totally not an excuse.
  • Extent of the election promises made by the red-green coalition: Self-imposed, and the promises were actually scaled down in the transition from election promises to the Soria Moria declaration. Not an excuse.
  • Timeline for completion of self-imposed objectives: Also set by the red-green coalition - totally not an excuse.
  • Proposals keep getting shot down by the opposition: Nope - they're in the majority, meaning opposition input hasn't been the issue it would've been for a minority ruling body. Not an excuse.
Basically they've screwed up, but instead of doing the honorable thing, which would have been to give a mea culpa, stating that while they have not lived up to their full potential, they will strive to improve and regain voter confidence, they - embodied by the Prime Minister - blame their own failures on the voters.

And perhaps worst of all; when the biggest party in the red-green coalition, Labour (Arbeiderpartiet), didn't get favorable polls from independent pollsters, they made their own poll, which - surprise, surprise - ended up being more favorable.

Straight out of the "Li'l Third World Banana Republic Dictator Playbook".


Anders said...

The current goverment hasn't done too badly, all in all. Yes, they have had some very bad incidents (Haga's resignment, the whole Ramin-Osmundsen series, etc) and I do agree that they've failed on the education (should be interesting to see what the new minister of research and education can do in the last year), but all-in-all they haven't done too bad.

But, the real problem is that they promised more then they could deliver and left the voters hoping for too much. E.g. they have built new Kindergardens at a faster pace then any other goiverment, but still not at the rate promised. And that was a big issue for them.

Wilhelm said...

Yep - I'm not actually saying that the government is crap on a general basis. The point of the post was that they made the promises, they set the timeline, they determined the scope, and when they fail to live up to that, they don't 'fess up to the consequences, but throw a major-league hissy-fit blaming the voters for their own failures.

That's my problem.

Well; one of them anyway. My major beef is that they've further derailed the goal of research contributing to the gnp to the tune of 3 %.

Then again, I've got no illusion that any political party would actually keep any promise to universities and research in general.