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Bergen For Members

The key local election topics that Bergen residents need to know about

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
The key local election topics that Bergen residents need to know about
With the elections just around the corner, these are some of the critical local issues being discussed in the city nestled between seven mountains on Norway's west coast. Photo by Joshua Kettle on Unsplash

Privatisation of care, parking spaces, and after-school program fees are among the key talking points in the run-up to the local elections in Bergen.

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The approaching September 11th local elections present a chance for foreigners residing in Norway to exercise their voting rights, as foreign nationals who have officially registered as residents in Norway for more than three years can participate.

This year, a particularly tight race is expected in Norway's second-largest city, Bergen, where the Labor Party (AP) has been in power for eight years.

In May, an ​​opinion poll by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) showed a strong appetite for change among Bergen residents, with the Conservative Party (H) in the lead.

However, just a week before the election, a new opinion poll from NRK revealed that the Conservatives lost their lead and that voters remained particularly divided on the question of who should lead the Bergen City Council.

With the elections just around the corner, these are some of the critical local issues being discussed in the city nestled between seven mountains on Norway's west coast.

Privatisation of elderly and substance abuse care

In recent years, the Bergen City Council has removed private operators from elderly care.

A debate is underway between proponents of entrusting private companies with substance abuse and elderly care and those who oppose it.

Supporters (the Conservatives, the Progress Party, the Christian Democratic Party and others) argue that private involvement and increased volunteer participation can better address the area's needs and offer greater service choices.

Opponents, such as the the Labour Party, the Centre Party, and the Green Party, highlight concerns that profit motives would affect service quality, advocating that the public sector is better equipped to fulfil this role.

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The debate on after-school program (SFO) fees

There is also an ongoing debate over the cost of the after-school program (SFO) for primary school students.

While some argue that universal free access to after-school education would promote inclusivity, others warn that financial constraints warrant a more targeted approach, prioritising those most in need.

Outdoor dining (and alcohol options) at the Torgallmenningen square

This spring, outdoor seating and dining was permitted at the Torgallmenningen Square, a decision met with a mix of reactions.

Advocates for maintaining the site as an alcohol-free zone - including the Conservatives, the Progress Party, the Greens, and the Liberal Party - emphasise its importance for children and young individuals.

On the other hand, proponents of the new outdoor dining option highlight its potential to reinvigorate the space, which has seen many a Bergen resident enjoy an utepils at Torgallmenningen since the opportunity became available.

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Parking spaces in the city centre

Parking is always a hot issue in Bergen.

Advocates for fewer cars and more car-free zones in the city centre hail the environmental and quality-of-life benefits of such an approach.

However, opponents (such as the Centre Party, the Conservatives, the Progress Party, the Christian Democrats, and others) stress the importance of preserving access for those reliant on cars.

The debate is usually a standoff between advocates for more parking spaces versus those promoting eco-friendly alternatives.

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Ring Road East vs. extending light rail infrastructure (Bybanen)

An important transportation decision looms, pitting the development of Ring Road East (a planned road project between Arna, Vågsbotn, and Klauvaneset north of central Bergen) against the expansion of light rail infrastructure.

Proponents of the ring road, including the Conservatives, the Centre Party, the Progress Party and others, emphasise its potential economic and regional benefits, especially during traffic disruptions in the Fløyfjell Tunnel.

On the other hand, supporters of prioritising the light rail project to Åsane cite concerns about environmental impact and its potential to reduce traffic congestion.

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