• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Norwegian PM turns cabbie in election stunt

Richard Orange · 12 Aug 2013, 08:24

Published: 12 Aug 2013 08:24 GMT+02:00

 
"It is important for me to hear what people really think," he told Norwegian media. "And if there is one place people really say what they think about most things, it's in the taxi. Right from the gut." 
 
The stunt, which was captured on a hidden camera for the Labour leader's election campaign video, was the brain-child of Try, one of Norway's leading advertising agencies. 
 
The Prime Minister wore dark glasses and an ordinary taxi driver's uniform for the shift, which took place in June. The passengers, some of whom had been instructed to wait for the taxi, took little time to rumble their driver's disguise. 
 
"From this angle you really look like Stoltenberg," said one. "So, you have begun driving a taxi," says another. "Have you quit as prime minister?" asks a third. 
 
The conversation in the filmed exchanges quickly moves onto politics. 

 
The video has gone viral across the world, featuring in The Times, The Guardian, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail in the UK, as well as on the BBC. It featured in The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, in the Huffington Post in the US, and on international television channels such as Al-Jazeera. 
 
Mr Stoltenberg remains popular in Norway but his government is seen as tired by voters and is lagging behind the opposition centre-right in the run-up to next month's election. 
 
Recent polls show that Labour is supported by 27.5 percent of the electorate, while the Conservative party is in the lead with 31.9 percent of the voters.
 
The stunt is reminiscent of the wooden soapbox UK Prime Minister John Major pulled out in 1992, when victory seemed similarly distant for the British Conservative party. 
 
It is also a favourite ruse pulled by the benevolent potentates of fairy-tale and legend, such as Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the 1001 Nights or  King Richard the Lion Heart in the Robin Hood stories. 
 
Stoltenberg admits that he was sceptical when first presented with the idea by the agency's founder Kjetil Try, who is a personal friend. 
 
"When the idea came up, I was not sure whether it could be done. I spent of lot of time contemplating it," he told VG.
Story continues below…
 
He also appears to have had some problems getting used to his temporary new role. 
 
"I know this city pretty well, but I'm used to being in the back seat, so I  got a bit confused about which lane to be in. Some of my passengers were criticising me," he told VG.  "I think I stepped on the clutch, but it turned out to be the break." 
 
Asked by VG if he might become a taxi driver if he loses the election, Stoltenberg threw in his election pitch. 
 
"I think the nation and Norwegian taxi passengers are best served if I am the prime minister and not a taxi driver."

Richard Orange (richard.orange@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
PM slammed for playing Pokémon at defence hearing
Grande's behaviour during the hearing was all over the Norwegian media. Photo: Stortinget TV / NTB scanpix

She said playing the game helps her "listen better".

Tanks, guns and bras: Norway's women join the draft
Selection exercises during Joint admission and selection camp 2016. Photo: Olav Standal Tangen/Forsvaret

They sweat together, they sleep together: Norway has introduced compulsory military service for women, even bunking them in mixed dorms with their brothers-in-arms.

Norway PM hunts Pokémon in Slovakia
Solberg, shown here at the Arendal political forum earlier this month, said she recently got hooked on Pokémon Go. Photo:Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

An avid gamer, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg took a break from her official duties in Bratislava this week to hunt for Pokemon monsters in the Slovak capital's old town.

Western Norway braces for extremely heavy rains
Heavy rains in Bergen earlier this month. Photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB scanpix

Residents requested to stay off the roads.

Norwegians conquer England in record time
(L-R) Øystein Garfos, Øystein Djupvik, Andreas Munkelien and Gunnar Garfors

Another wacky record in the books for Norway's extreme travellers.

Norway asylum centres report increase in teen prostitution
File photo of an asylum centre in Råde. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Reports increased fivefold between 2014 and 2015 and officials fear there are more unreported cases.

New signs of life in the Norwegian economy
Finance Norway CEO Idar Kreuetzer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix

Positive signals in Finance Norway’s quarterly expectations survey are being interpreted as yet another sign that the Norwegian economy is over the hump.

Car fires in Oslo as burnings reported across Scandinavia
There is no immediate indication that the Oslo car fires are connected to the more than 70 car fires in Malmö, pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT/Scanpix

No indication that the two car fires in the Norwegian capital are connected to a series of suspected arson attacks in Sweden and Denmark.

Five things to know about the Philippine peace talks in Oslo
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende greets participants as the peace talks get underway in Oslo on Monday. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Can the talks in Oslo put an end to a nearly 50-year rebellion?

Norway talks spur hopes for Philippine peace deal
(L-R) Jose Maria Sison (NDFP), Elisabeth Slåttum, FM Børge Brende, Jesus Dureza (GPH) and Luis Jalandori begin peace talks. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

Norway-mediated talks aim to end one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Frozen effect bringing 'too many tourists' to Norway
Travel
Frozen effect bringing 'too many tourists' to Norway
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Norway's angel princess divorces novelist husband
Norway's angel princess divorces novelist husband
Norwegian motorist kills 19 reindeer in bloody collision
National
Norwegian motorist kills 19 reindeer in bloody collision
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Tick here please': Changing gender in Norway gets easier
Lifestyle
'Tick here please': Changing gender in Norway gets easier
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Danish scientist: Mysterious 'blue blob' caused by weather
National
Danish scientist: Mysterious 'blue blob' caused by weather
Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes
Education
Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes
Norway's ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
National
Norway makes ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
International
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars
National
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars – yet
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
National
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
National
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Record number of kids mark Norway's National Day
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Travel
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Lifestyle
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
2,027
jobs available