Lysbakken gets Socialist Left nod despite scandal

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Photo: Fredrik Varfjell/Scanpix
09:42 CET+01:00
The Socialist Left (SV) party on Saturday selected Audun Lysbakken as its new leader just a week after he resigned as equality minister over the misuse by his department of public funds.

The party faithful stamped their feet and gave the new leader a standing ovation on Sunday as he stood up to speak at the party’s conference.

“We’re not going to look to the future; we’re going to shape it. That’s what it’s all about now. This party conference is a new beginning and we’re going to make things happen,” said Lysbakken to rapturous applause.

Currently a junior partner in the ruling red-green coalition, SV was spearheaded for the last 15 years by Kristin Halvorsen, who supported Lysbakken’s bid to take the helm.

The 34-year-old Lysbakken is widely expected to shift the party further to the left.

“It’s obvious that the election of Audun will move SV to the left, but a party leader can never be 100 percent radical,” said Trond Martin Sæterhaug, local party chief for Nord-Trøndelag.

Despite resigning as equality minster over revelations that his department allocated public funds to a feminist youth group allied to SV without advertising the availability of the resources, Lysbakken remained the sole candidate to take over from Halvorsen when the party met on Saturday.

Lysbakken conceded that the scandal had harmed the party but said he was optimistic about instigating a recovery.

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“We have difficult challenges ahead of us. It will take time to turn adversity into success. But we know we can do it. I leave this congress with the certainty that we will pick ourselves up.

“My friends, this is a new beginning. We have spent some winter nights outside. Soon it will be spring,” said Lysbakken, drawing huge applause from his party colleagues.

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