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Researcher: Norwegian politicians should stay out of US election

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Researcher: Norwegian politicians should stay out of US election
Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix
16:33 CEST+02:00
Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen has come under fire for publicly voicing his support for US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“It can be problematic that he is being explicit in his support,” Hilmar Langhelle Mjelde, Senior Researcher at the University of Bergen, told NTB.

“As a senior politician and minister, the most appropriate thing would be not to announce one’s support or opposition toward a potential head of state. In an international context, party politics should ideally stop at the national border, and we must be able to work with a President Trump as well as a President Clinton,” he added.

Helgesen, who voiced his support for the Democrat presidential candidate on Tuesday at the Democrat convention in Philadelphia, has dismissed the criticism.

“A government should not have an official position on who should be president or prime minister of another country, but a politician should be entitled to have an opinion, even if you are a minister,” Helgesen wrote in an email to NTB.

See also: Norway's leaders dodge questions on Donald Trump

Helgesen also noted that American leadership in the area of climate change and the environment is crucial, not least with respect to the Paris Agreement.

“It is very doubtful that such leadership will continue with Trump as president,” the minister explained.

Mjelde agrees that it is probably no secret that Norway is cheering for Clinton.

“She is closer to us politically,” the researcher told NTB.

However, Mjelde believes that senior Norwegian politicians explicitly voicing their support for Clinton may present challenges further down the road if it is Trump who ends up winning.

“If Norway eventually has to welcome a US ambassador appointed by Trump, he or she should not feel that they are coming to a country where the politicians are very distrusting of them or the new president,” Mjelde said.

See also: Norway's Trump wig farm a viral hit

Ulf Leirstein of the Progress Party is one of the few Norwegian politicians who has said he would vote for Donald Trump if he could. He believes the way one supports a candidate can be problematic.

“There are some who are practically condemning Trump, which can make things difficult if he is elected,” Leirstein told NTB, adding that Norwegian politicians should be careful not to criticise the Republican candidate.

“Norway relies on a good relationship with the US. It’s fine to say you support Clinton, but you should not say that you practically hate Trump. I don’t think that’s very smart,” he said.

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