Norway Country Report - 2000

The Society of Friends is at the moment the only organisation in Norway working for a peace tax fund. There are about 150 Quakers in Norway. Earlier the Campaign Against Conscription also worked for a peace tax fund. They no longer work for this issue.

The Quakers have worked for a peace tax fund in 10-15 years. Four people in the Quakers peace group has in their spare time done most of the work during the last few years. They have collected support from different peace organisations and from several individuals. They were also in a very positive dialogue with the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Kjell Magne Bondevik, before he became Prime Minister (PM) in October 1997.

Mr. Bondevik helped the Quakers before he became PM with his connections as a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a Member of Parliament. But he never actually supported the peace tax fund openly, he was very vague and indefinite.

One result of his connections was that a political advisor in the Ministry of Defence answered the Quakers application. Sadly it was negative. The same answer we got from a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance. We heard the usual argument: “Impossible to carry through”.

Mr. Bondevik was PM for two and a half years, but didn't have time (a huge understatement) for the peace tax fund in this period. In March this year Jens Stoltenberg from the Labour Party became the new PM. There are no illusions about him in this matter. The new PM is on the right wing in the Labour Party, and will probably do nothing with peace tax.

However that may be, working for a peace tax fund took a giant step forward in January this year. Member of Parliament (MP) Hallgeir Langeland from the Socialist Party has agreed to present a private proposal during the year. In fact, Mr. Langeland will present the private proposal when the Quakers have finished lobbying other MP's.

Lobbying the Parliament is taking place this spring. We hope to finish the lobbying by May; hopefully Mr. Langeland will present the proposal during May, June or this autumn.

Eight political parties are represented in the Parliament. MP's from five of them have been asked to support the private proposal - with no luck so far. The three other parties will not be asked because they think the Government should put more money in the Military budget.

There are 165 MP's in Norway; lucky for us we only need one MP to get the private proposal sent to a committee in the Parliament. Which means that the Parliament will handle the proposal no matter how many MP's turn the proposal down. Besides, some MP's has said that they may support the idea of a peace tax fund when a report is being drawn up on the subject. The work with such a report will start when the committee gets the proposal.

Normally it takes a year from the private proposal is being presented until it is voted on. We do not believe that there will be established a peace tax fund in a short time, but we have build a foundation wall. And there are a lot of Norwegian notabilities supporting us, which hopefully can be useful when we will try to mount a press campaign for the peace tax fund.

We won't give up!