Tag Archives: Longyearbyen Community Council

‘How does a mom explain?’: Trym Aunevik, 16, lifelong Longyearbyen resident and champion swimmer, told he must finish school on mainland because he has Down’s Syndrome

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Trym Aunevik, 16, is a national champion swimmer who a month ago proved fit enough to be one of four teens representing Norway in next year’s Special Olympic World Games. But the government has decided he is not fit to continue attending school in his lifelong hometown of Longyearbyen because he has Down’s Syndrome and the school lacks a special education program.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 3, 2018

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Controversial apartment complex with reduced parking approved by council
The construction of a controversial 60-apartment subdivision with a less-than-standard number of parking spaces was approved by the Longyearbyen Community Council, but with harsh criticism from some members who accused some city officials and the builder of trying to force the project through without proper debate.

Extreme makeover: New 10-year land-use plan calls for facelift of industrial area, recreational upgrades, and avalanche and climate change safeguards

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With Mother Nature dramatically changing the landscape in Longyearbyen, city leaders have approved a dramatic makeover of their own to ensure the community is on solid ground.

Out of left field: Liberal Party defies predictions, joins Labor for new Longyearbyen Community Council majority

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After all the shocks and twists, Longyearbyen’s new political leadership will be pretty much what everybody long expected before the votes were counted.

The Labor Party will retain its leadership of the Longyearbyen Community Council and top-ranked candidate Arild Olsen will be the city’s new mayor starting Tuesday after the newly elected Liberal Party members agreed to form a majority with the Labor members. The general assumption after the Oct. 5 election – by Olsen and other Labor Party members, along with the media and many residents – was the Liberals would shake up the city’s leadership by aligning with the Conservative Party.

Vote for sale: Fight for council majority drags on w/out major bargaining chip as Store Norske’s fate likely set

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Eirik Berger may the least experienced politician in Longyearbyen, but right now he’s arguably the most powerful. And he’s taking his time making sure he doesn’t squander it.

Right turn: Conservatives pull even with Labor on local council; offer mayor’s spot to Liberals in bid for majority

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Maybe it was the common practice of ousting the ruling party during a crisis. Maybe it was the pledge to seek more help from the national government to retain existing jobs. Maybe they were driven to vote at the last minute by a poll showing them losing badly. Maybe it was an appeal to the large – and largely ignored – bloc of non-Norwegian voters.

Or maybe (you saw this coming) it was some combination of them.

Not all in a party mood: Many voters Many voters oppose a dominant council majority

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For Turid Telebond, a Longyearbyen resident for the past 40 years, it was inevitable this would be an election of change. But she faced a dilemma where none of the likely outcomes were entirely satisfying.

Rant: For those just wanting the soap opera without the policy muddle, here’s the bizarre election timeline where everyone was king for a moment

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Oct. 2
A Svalbardposten poll shows Labor winning nine of the 15 Longyearbyen Community Council seats (a gain of two from the current council) and nearly 57 percent of the vote. The Liberal Party is dead last with one seat and 9.7 percent.

Oct. 3
This fishwrapper makes the “longshot” prediction the Green Party will win five seats and Labor will retain a plurality of seven. This would be an irrelevant bit of lunacy except:

Oct. 6 (Election Day)
3:30-5 p.m:
Exit poll interviews by Icepeople with voters result in four of the first five saying they voted for the Green Party – not including a candidate on their ballot. Convinced nobody will believe us, we opt not to publish a “voters go to the polls” article before the actual count is announced.

8:40 p.m.: A Person Not To Be Named tells us the advance votes show our “longshot” prediction for the Greens and Labor is correct. We ponder if there’s any chance of making people think we were actually smart rather than stupidly lucky.

Rant: Wait a minute…how is it possible conservatives and liberals are going to join to form a new ruling coalition?

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For those not familiar with Norway’s political parties and the unusual “private sector” economy in Longyearbyen, it might seem inconceivable the Liberal Party would join the Conservative Party (rather than the left-leaning Labor Party) to form a new ruling coalition on the Longyearbyen Community Council.

Especially, since as will be explained shortly, the Conservatives and Liberals (or Right and Left parties, if literally translated) differ fundamentally on perhaps the most important issue of all for at least the short-term, if not their entire four years in office.

Bullish: Top Conservative Party candidate expects Longyearbyen to grow rapidly, even if most coal mining is lost

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Torgeir Prytz said he believes Longyearbyen will have 3,000 residents when his first term ends four years from now. Seriously.

The top-ranked candidate for the Conservative Party acknowledges the town may lose 150 or more employees at Store Norske by next summer – which when factoring in families and workers in related industries could mean a loss of 300 to 400 of Longyearbyen’s current 2,100 residents.