Leaders dodge Trump
Brende and Solberg decline to weigh in on the prospects of a President Donald Trump
In a recent parliamentary session that focused heavily on Europe’s refugee crisis, Christian Democrat MP Knut Arlid Hareide wanted Foreign Minister Børge Brende to share his stance on the prospect of Trump, who has suggested banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants, winning the November election.
“My question to the foreign minister is: what does he think about Donald Trump maybe being the next president of the U.S.?” Hareide said to chuckles from his fellow MPs.
“I think that the challenges we face in Europe are complicated enough by themselves. If we are to also factor in the American primary elections, we are taking this to an even higher level of complexity,” the foreign minister said.
“As representative Hareide knows quite well, it’s not smart for a Norwegian foreign minister to have opinions on particular candidates in a democratic process taking place in another country. And this isn’t just any country, it is our closest ally. I’m following the election closely and am of course ready to have a good cooperation with the next administration,” Brende added.
News agency NTB also tried to get Prime Minister Erna Solberg to voice an opinion on Trump, who soared to victories in seven of 11 states on Super Tuesday and is closing in on the Republican nomination.
“As the Norwegian prime minister, I have no opinion on the election or who should be the next president. I think that to protect Norwegian national interests, it is best to not comment on candidates in other countries,” she said.
Solberg and Brende’s carefully worded neutral responses stood in contrast to some other European leaders.
The Danish foreign minister said that “it would be much, much more difficult to work with the U.S.” if Trump were to become president, given “he changes opinions like the rest of us change underwear.”
Germany’s foreign minister meanwhile took a thinly veiled shot at the brash businessman, decrying the “politics of fear” in the U.S. presidential campaign.
This article was originally published on The Local.
It also appeared in the March 11, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.