Nearly three-quarters of people in Norway do not want to join the European Union, a poll has shown.
Twenty years after the last ballot on membership of the EU, the majority who would vote “no” is bigger than ever. A convincing 74 percent say “no”, says the latest research.
The poll conducted by Sentio for the newspapers Nationen and Klassekampen found only 16.8 percent of those polled were for membership, while 9.2 percent answered “don't know” to the question of whether Norway should become a member of the 28-member bloc.
During the last referendum on the issue in 1994, 52.2 percent voted no. In the 1972 vote on joining what was then the EEC, opponents won with 53.5 percent of the vote.
Sentio had to go back to 2005 to find a “yes” majority on their EU membership polls.
If the trend continues for another six months, then the “no” majority will have stood continuously for ten years in Norway.
What the Norwegian people want stands in contrast to the will of the Norwegian parliament, where there is still a majority among Norway's elected politicians for EU membership.
But Norway's politicians show little appetite to provoke debate. Both Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservative Party) and the chairman of the Labour Party, Jonas Gahr Støre, have said that the question of a Norwegian EU membership is "not a topic”.
The former chairman of the Centre Party, Anne Enger - nicknamed "the EU queen” during the campaign against Norwegian membership in 1994 - still backs Norway staying out of the EU.
Enger said to Klassekampen: "The most important thing is that Norway did not enter EU. But the alliance that evolved also resulted in consequences. The red-green government [a term used to describe the second coalition government with Jens Stoltenberg as Prime Minister (2005-2013), consisting of the Labour Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party] is an example on how we managed to bridge differences that had existed for a long time.”
The organization "No to EU” celebrates its 20th anniversary on top, and will hold their national conference this weekend.
The leader of "No to EU”, Heming Olaussen, who is set to step down, wrote in a column in Aftenposten that his organization wants to secure a public ballot about Norway’s membership in the EEA (European Economic Area).
Olaussen believes that the current EEA agreement needs to be replaced by a bilateral, renewed trade agreement with EU.