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Immigrants may determine Norwegian election

Sist oppdatert:
Almost 12 percent of voters in Oslo, Norway, are non-western immigrants. The number is high enough for a major mobilization to determine the result of the local election in Norway on 15 September.

"Almost 50,000 immigrants from non-western countries have the right to vote in Norway", said election researcher Tor Bjørklund.

This is 11.9 percent of all voters in the Norwegian capital. In comparison, 3.5 percent of all voters in Norway are none-western.

Do not use the right to vote

All immigrants who have lived in the country for three years can vote regardless of them being Norwegian citizens, but the election turnout is normally low.

"Only 39 percent of non-western immigrants with the right to vote did so at the last local election in 1999. The general election turnout in Norway is 60.4 percent", said Bjørklund.

In other words - if a political party in Oslo manages to mobilize immigrants, they could win a lot of voters.

Aslam Ahsan, leader of the resource centre for Pakistani children, thinks the most efficient way for politicians to win votes would be to visit immigrants in their own homes:

"They should visit people and talk to them face to face. The best thing would be to include an immigrant in their party", said Ahsan.

Visiting people at home

The Conservatives in Oslo is the only party willing to call on immigrants in the capital, with two top politicians visiting people at home.

The Conservatives will have to do a good job if the party is to win votes from immigrants, though.

Over the last years the party has tried to invite immigrants to barbeques and concerts featuring Pakistani musicians, but their efforts did not make a big difference at the 1999 election. The Conservatives received only 9 percent of the votes whereas 60 percent voted Labour and 15 percent for the socialist left-wing party SV.

"I think the Conservatives have misunderstood a few things. I am happy to have dinner with the Conservatives, but will not let go of the Labours for that reason. Everyone attends the concerts that the Conservatives arrange, but nobody is interested in who is behind it", said Ahsan.

- Is it a paradox when the Conservatives say they want immigrants to vote for them when at the same time, they do not want to give immigrants secure places on their election list?

"No, I don't mind that. It means that the immigrants who do not have a secure place will be more active going around mobilizing", said Ahsan.

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