Minority government without minorities

The newly formed three party conservative government should know what it feels like to be a minority. Facing an opposing majority, it has already suffered many defeats in Parliament. Yet many commentators remarked that this minority government is devoid of any person with a non-western minority background.

Actually, it may seem that even a hard liner like Donald Trump has more diverse ethnicity in his government, especially if one adopts a semi racial criterion. One in very ten Norwegians, have a non-western background. There are many talented politicians in Høyre, FrP and Venstre who in fact have a non-western background. Their non-presence in the Solberg-government is not just a minor flaw.

Initially, the debate headlines cried out that there are no minorities in the new Solberg-government. This was countered with assertions that there is at least one. German born Rebekka Borsch from the party Venstre was chosen as secretary to the Minister of Education. Borsch herself, among others, protested that a person from Germany should also be counted as a minority in Norway. In a comment Borsch pointed out that she has in no way been accepted naturally as a Norwegian. Rather, she has faced many obstacles, socially and culturally, language being only one. In Norway, a foreigner from Germany struggles to win friends, feel understood and gain a career.

One may certainly agree with Borsch that foreigners from nearby countries, even Swedes and Danes, often have a hard time becoming included among ethnic Norwegians. Yet this does not imply that there is not a difference among immigrant groups. One may assert that there is a hierarchy of stereotypes. Consider for instance how the discourse about welfare cheating is centered around the Somali community. Among the Somalis themselves there seem to be a developed distrust that NAV and other agencies only view them as cheaters who shun work. One can hardly say there is a similar stereotype for Norwegian residing Germans.

There is a reason why positive discrimination is prevalent in the labour market, especially in the public sector. And here non-western people of immigrant background are favoured. Germans or others from «the western hemisphere» are not. This stems from a realization of the inequality in competetiveness due to personal background. It is well known that the Central Statistics Bureau (SSB) define a huge group of immigrants as «the rest of the world». The rest of world are largely countries outside of North America and Europe. There are severe immigration restrictions put on these countries. This in itself creates a marked difference with respect to freedom of choice when compared to a conutry like Germany.

A refugee or a person coming from a country with immigration restrictions have to work exceedingly hard once they gain access to Norway. They must learn a totally different language, undertake a new kind of education, seek friendships and apply for jobs in more unfamiliar contexts. Owing to this difference they ought to be positively discriminated. Especially when one knows that research has shown that many employers shun non-western foreign sounding names. As the motto goes, the state should «mirror the population». So it is time for the Solberg-government to look in the mirror, and realise it is not so major on minorities.

- Sheila Parrera