Saying “hi” to the prime minister

This is what I love about living in Norway:

This morning I was walking to work and passed a woman in the street. She looked familiar and I was deep in my own thoughts so I just said “hi”. She said “hi” back and gave me a smile. That was when I realized that I`d just said “hi” to our prime minister.

Erna Solberg - the Norwegian prime minister

Erna Solberg – the Norwegian prime minister

She was walking down the street, no security pushing people aside or trying to keep her away from any and all dangers in her path. I liked that.

And before you say, “well, it`s easy for your prime minister to walk around unprotected – you live in such a peaceful part of the world”, I need to remind you of the terror of Oslo and Utøya only a little over two years ago. Our government buildings were bombed and 69 kids were killed at a political rally – all on the same day. I also need to remind you that the Swedish prime minister was killed in the streets back in 1986 and that another Swedish minister was killed while shopping in 2003.

I`m not sure our politicians are in much less danger of meeting a crazy person than politicians in most other countries. They still choose to walk, use their bicycle or the tram – they are among us –  and if you come here you`ll see it all the time. This is a choice they`ve made. They want to be close to “the people” because that`s the only way they can still stay part of the people.

So I was thrilled to be able to say “hi” to our prime minister today. Not because I voted for her or because I`m a fan of her. Not because I get a thrill from seeing famous people. But because it reassures me that our politicians are still just people and that they are accessible. If I contact a politician via email or some social media, I`ll always get a reply – and most probably from that politician him-/herself. I may not like the reply but I know he or she listened to me and that my opinions were somehow taken into account.

I like that 🙂

 

EDIT: On the same day I had lunch at a restaurant near my office and who walks in? The mayor of Oslo – dressed in jeans and a huge smile. Yes, I like this country (even if I didn`t vote for the mayor either).

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7 responses to “Saying “hi” to the prime minister

  • Victor

    I think the bomber and killer of Oslo (Breivik) its not gonna kill that prime minister (Erna) since he was born politically in the extreme right wing party (Fremskrittspartiet). Erna belong also to a right wing party, he is not going to attack something or someone who has a similar way of political thinking. We must also remember that all the young people killed in Utøya were members of the youth laboral party (left wing party). Regardless this kind of acts of “terrorism” I think personally that Norway is a very peacefull country

    • thyra10

      Sure but someone with different political views might have killed her. The politicians know this but they still choose to have minimal security because they know it’ll do something to them and to society if they keep hiding behind armed guards. I like the choice they’ve made 🙂

  • Erik Hauke Tønnesen

    King Olav was once asked by an American television station why he didn’t have any security attachement. He simply answered “I got 4 million bodyguards.”
    Off course, he did have a security detail. It just wasn’t “in your face.” Nice answer, though.

    • thyra10

      And he was right, of course.

      The funny thing is that I heard the same thing when I visited Jordan in December. Jordan is the most peaceful country in the Middle East. They are at peace with all their neighbors and their king does not have a gazillion security people running around to protect him (or so I was told). The reason? He fells it would signal distrust of his fellow Jordanians. I liked that 😀

  • Uyama

    my job gives me a level of exposure to meet with dignitaries from all over the world. ordinarily I would freak out 😀

    • thyra10

      I don’t think I would freak out since I’m seeing dignitaries (well, local ones) in the street all the time. They’re just people, putting their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us 😀

  • Gordon Barlow

    When my son (who lives in Norway) bumped into Prime Minister Stoltenberg last year at Akerbrygge, the PM was happy to pose for a “selfie”. No bodyguards in evidence. Wonderful! Of course even in England, security is minimal for dignitaries: the princes are often co-opted for selfies, and it’s no big deal.

    I live on a Caribbean island (Cayman) where there are security guards just about everywhere. Sigh.

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