In an interview with the Aftenposten newspaper Sunday, Labour Party leader Støre said that he and French President Macron, who has previously expressed his own interest in the Scandinavian societal model, had a number of things in common.
Støre, who hopes to become Norway's prime minister by winning the general election scheduled for September 11th this year, said that the relationship between Norway and France could flourish under a Labour government.
Macron's political project shares a lot of characteristics with Støre's own plans for Norway in the event of his election, the opposition leader said, pointing to Macron's collaboration and dialogue with the business community.
“Since the election, Macron has spent a lot of time with various business actors and focuses on creating dialogue. This is very important to gain support and legitimacy for important reforms,” Støre said.
The opposition leader also cited Macron's strong stance against the far right, saying that a Labour government in Norway would open the door to the country's political centre, shutting out the nationalist Progress Party – currently a coalition partner.
Brende took to Twitter to downplay the comparison.
Jeg ser ikke umiddelbart likheten. Macron brøt med Sosialistpartiet for å reformere Frankrike ikke for å reversere. https://t.co/LRgaJpD4jU— Børge Brende (@borgebrende) July 16, 2017
“I see no obvious similarity. Macron left the [French, ed.] Socialist Party to reform, not to reverse,” Brende wrote.
“I don't think that comparing oneself to Macron in this way makes any sense based on the politics they stand for,” Brende told Aftenposten.
“Labour, under Støre's leadership, want to roll back important reforms the government has implemented to strengthen our competitiveness, such as municipal reform, road administration, regional administration reform… Støre wants a reverse of reforms, while Macron wants more reforms,” the foreign minister added.
Støre is markedly less pro-EU than the French president, with Labour against potential Norwegian EU membership, Brende said.
The Centre Party, Labour's closest parliamentary ally, is also Norway's most EU-sceptical party, he added.
Although Norway is not faced with many of the challenges Macron seeks to tackle through his reform programme, Brende said that it was still necessary to have a Norwegian government that wished for reforms of its own.
“We have pushed through several reforms, not least after the fall in oil prices, and this will also be necessary during the next parliamentary term. I don't feel that Labour is capable of the modernisation Norway needs,” he said.
“The only thing [Macron and Brende] have in common is that both speak French,” he added.