One vote per house?

Progress Party’s vote suggestion ridiculed as “from the 19th century”

The Local

Progress Party

Photo: flickr
Helge André Njåstad is a financial spokesperson for Norway’s Progress Party.

A suggestion that owners of holiday cabins could be given two votes—one for each constituency in which they own property—has been decried by the opposition as “from the 19th century.”

The Progress Party (FrP), a right-wing partner in the coalition government, suggested in early April that an extra vote could be given to citizens who pay real estate tax on properties in separate parts of the country.

Helge André Njåstad, financial spokesperson with the Progress Party, said the measure would give property tax contributors fair influence in the areas in which they contribute to municipal coffers.

The party actually wants to reduce real estate tax overall, Njåstad also said.

“Our primary viewpoint is that we’d like to scrap property tax, for both houses and holiday cabins. But property tax in relation to cabins is particularly bad. Those paying property tax on cabins have no influence on politics in those municipalities,” he told newspaper VG.

Government support for reduction of maximum property-tax rates from 7 to 5 percent was secured by the Progress Party during negotiations in January, when the coalition government with the Conservative and Liberal parties was formed.

That change still needs to be voted for by a parliamentary majority, meaning the minority coalition must gain the support of at least one other parliamentary group, most likely the Christian Democrats.

But Njåstad said he would like to see further changes in the area.

“Perhaps the right to vote should be given in two places when you pay tax in two places. This must naturally be more closely examined, but should we gain a majority for it, we would create models that give cabin owners influence over taxation,” he said to VG.

That idea was dismissed as “19th century” by Audun Lysbakken, leader of the opposition Socialist Left (SV) party.

“It is refreshing to see the Progress Party wants to go back to the 19th century to find new ideas,” Lysbakken said to VG.

The SV leader said the idea was reminiscent of a time when voting rights were dependent on how much land one owned.

“It is a crazy proposal. What they are actually proposing here is that people who can afford a holiday cabin have a bigger say in our democracy,” he said.

He also suggested that such a measure could result in local populations losing influence over municipal politics.

Under current laws, municipalities in Norway are responsible for collecting property tax, but whether the tax is actually demanded is up to the individual municipalities themselves.

“FrP is leading people on when they say they are against property tax. The government gives so little to municipalities that many feel they must collect property tax. It is [Progress Party leader and Finance Minister] Siv Jensen’s tax cuts for the rich that cause a greater need for property tax, so FrP should stop pretending they are against it,” Lysbakken said.

This article originally appeared in the April 20, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.