Conservative Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg’s victory on Tuesday was nothing short of stunning. Just as pollsters got the American presidential election wrong in 2016, so too did the pollsters in Norway’s election.
Solberg, nicknamed “Iron Erna,” led the Conservative coalition to victory and her second term as the Norwegian Prime Minister. In doing so, Conservatives held the Social Democratic Party to its second smallest popular vote since the end of World War II. Knut Fangberget, the Deputy Mayor of Hamar, Norway, has known Solberg for over 30 years, going back to their days together in Young Conservatives.
He said, “the secret to her success has been her ability to connect with all Norwegians and expand the base of the Conservative Party.”
The 56-year-old Bergen native Solberg has been the nation’s second female Prime Minister and has been a tough, no-nonsense leader who has accomplished much in her first term. Her efforts in tax reform, education reform, diversifying Norway’s economy, and consolidating government to reduce bureaucracy and costs have paid big-time dividends for the Norwegian people. And her accomplishment of successfully eliminating inheritance taxes is something that all Conservatives should cheer.
Much of this can serve as a “blue print” for the Trump administration and her investments in infrastructure and transportation seem like a page out of the Trump playbook. Solberg is also a populist Conservative who has connected with blue-collar voters. Her book, “People not Billions,” has broadened Norway’s Conservative Party’s appeal to the working class. In fact, the phrase “People not Billions” has become the Conservative Party’s slogan — emphasizing that the people and their needs are as important as fiscal issues.
In May of 2016, I had the honor of speaking to a Norwegian Rotary Club in Hedmark County, Norway, on what a Trump presidency would mean for Norway. I explained that then-candidate Donald Trump’s policies and proposals would be very similar to that of Norway’s Conservative (known as Høyre) and Progress Parties and, like them, would broaden the conservative appeal to include the blue-collar working class.
Make no mistake, Prime Minister Solberg’s re-election presents a tremendous opportunity for the Trump administration to strengthen transatlantic cooperation with our European allies. And Erna Solberg is a natural to be one of President Trump’s best allies and advisors on European matters. Let’s face it, Norwegians love Americans. English is their second language and almost all Norwegians boast about having a cousin or distant relative in America. In fact, Norwegians joke that there are more people of Norwegian descent who live in America than in Norway. The bond and friendship between Norway and America is long and real. Norwegians are also known for their engineering and science and actually have niche technologies that can be helpful to the United States. In medicine, energy, and agriculture, Norwegian scientists and engineers are hard to beat. Their advancements in cancer immunotherapy and enabling technologies to survive an EMP attack, are just a few technological areas that come to mind that can be helpful to all.
Erna Solberg is a strong populist conservative messenger not just for Norway, but for all of Europe. “Iron Erna” is the new Iron Lady of Europe and she is the right ally for President Trump to work more closely with in building a stronger bridge between the United States and our allies in Europe.