Should members of the government pin down the UN’s sustainability goals as the country sidesteps the coronavirus crisis? This question has fueled the political debate in Norway, both in the halls of Parliament, the Storting, and on social media.
The multi-colored donut icon representing the 2030 Agenda to achieve the 17 United Nations-promoted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has become the subject of confrontation in the Norwegian political arena. As the Nordic country celebrates 75 years since the liberation of Nazi Germany, parliamentary representatives of the Progress Party (the far-right Frp), ex-government formation, and other far-right groups have singled out Norwegian leaders as “traitors” that They wear the famous brooch on their lapels and ask to replace the international insignia with the Norwegian flag.
From the Crown Prince, Haakon, and the Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, to the Ministers of Health and Culture and the Bishop of Oslo, Kari Veiteberg, numerous representatives of the Norwegian politics, monarchy and church have been carrying for months in their jackets the pin in which each color symbolizes the global goals adopted by the UN member states in 2015. Among them are eradicating poverty and hunger, guaranteeing gender equality and decent work, reducing inequality, stopping the climate change and betting on cities and communities that are socially and environmentally sustainable. Since 2016 the Prime Minister of Norway has been one of the leaders of the UN SDG Group, which is committed to working to raise awareness of the goals and of the need for faster action.
Protest “against globalism”
The representatives of the Frp have criticized that the elected officials wear the finishing touch of the UN objectives and advocate, instead, for wearing Norwegian flags on the chest. As “a political protest against globalism,” voices from the party such as former Justice Minister Per-Willy Amundsen call attention to the use of internationalist symbols when the country is facing the coronavirus and recommends that the royal family “reconsider the importance of using national and non-international symbols “, at a time when the European Union, the UN and other international organizations” suppress the importance of the national state “.
With photos posing with the national flag on his lapel, FrP immigration policy spokesman Jon Helgheim and MP Morten Wold have posted comments on Facebook in line with the current recriminating the use of the insignia of the objectives of the global sustainability. “You will never see me with any UN pin. I have been chosen by the Norwegian people to safeguard the interests of Norway. A pin says something about who or what you represent. In my opinion, it gives absolutely wrong signals that the Norwegian government is going with a UN pin. We must not forget who we represent! ”, Criticized Helgheim on social networks, pointing out the interests of Norway“ as the first priority in the worst crisis since World War II ”.
“A secret world government”
The opposition to the multi-colored pin emerged in February in groups close to the extreme right on Facebook, called “We, who have had enough with the dictatorship of Parliament”, “Our little country”, “NorExit” or “Popular action for national law “Where leaders who wear the pin of sustainability goals are branded as” traitors “who do not care about” the interests of the Norwegian people “and are compared to Vidkun Quisling, the politician who collaborated with the German occupation of the country in the 1940s, he staged a coup and was sworn in as president.
In mid-April, the protest by several members of Facebook groups angry at the UN pin began to intensify. A post published on April 9, commemoration day of the 80th anniversary of the German occupation, stated that Norway faces “an invasion comparable to the 1940 Nazi invasion”, disregarding the Nordic country’s participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) as an “occupation that will last hundreds of years”.
“The perception that those who wear the multi-colored pin are more loyal to the UN and other international organizations than to Norway is framed in the context of the main conspiracy theories, which indicate that behind Agenda 21, the action plan to step up efforts on environmental and development issues, there is “a global Marxist government where the UN has all the power” and that there is “a secret world government that uses climate policy to gain control and reduce the world‘s population,” explains Faktisk .no, a Norwegian fact-checking website that has analyzed the controversy of the UN pin.
Solberg, without preferences
Speaking to the newspaper DagbladetRune Alstadsæter, secretary of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, notes that Solberg has no preference over which insignia ministers should wear. “All UN countries agreed on sustainability goals in 2015 and the Norwegian government, made up of the Høyre and Frp parties, agreed to this,” emphasizes Alstadsæter.
The controversy has had an impact on the sales figures of Norwegian flag brooches. Electronic stores like Norsk Uniform have gone from selling 20 to 30 units per month to almost a thousand in the last month. It is the commercial face of the battle for the insignia, “the most idiotic culture war,” the Aftenposten newspaper titled.
“At a time when the coronavirus and an economic crisis that can hit us as hard as depression in the 1930s, it is crucial not to cultivate artificial discussions. The flag, which plays such a central role in Norwegian society, should not become a matter of contention and a symbol of identity. In a political climate that is in danger of becoming more divisive, symbols mean a lot, ”said Hanne Skartveit, a political journalist for the VG newspaper.
In the same line, the policy editor is expressed in the local newspaper Drammens Tidende, Hege Breen Bakken: “This is a sample of symbolic politics at its worst, because it breaks and creates mistrust. And it happens at a time when the world is asking for more, not less cooperation. Fortunately, the Norwegian flag remains strong throughout the population, as evidenced by the 75th anniversary of liberation. We should not refuse to carry the Norwegian flag for fear of being put in the same bag as the nationalists. The controversy shows the danger of turning the flag into a political symbol for a few. Politicians of this caliber must take responsibility for the effect of their communication strategy, whether for political reasons or not, ”says Bakken.