Yeah, it’s seriously lame we’re too chicken***t to do endorsements here (in reality it’s because we don’t have the manpower to interview everyone on the ballot), but that doesn’t mean we’ll shy away ignorant speculation about how things will turn out just so you can make fun of us when we’re way wrong.
Obviously we get to cheat a bit since The Local Paper of Riches hired a legit polling firm whose results suggest the Labor Party will win nine of the 15 seats on the Longyearbyen Community Council, the Conservative Party three, the Green Party two and the Liberal Party one.
We disagree slightly – and if we were betting money would place it on a longshot shocker.
As we mention briefly in the print edition, we’re guessing Labor will get an outright majority this time with eight seats (up from its plurality of seven now), the Conservatives will hold steady at three, the Greens will get three in their first campaign and the Liberals one in their debut. Our rationale is the Greens are likely to have a more active grassroots operation than the others.
Now here’s our longshot ballot – along with a reminder that, no, it’s not a opinionated statement for or against the positions of anybody. In fact, as a full disclosure, our editor does not vote simply because if he did he would be ethically bound to disclose how he voted if asked. And while we certainly have certain “biases” we’re not afraid to print – such as accepting man-made climate change is real – even our local conservatives are onboard with that.
Labor: 7, Greens 5, Conservatives 3, Liberals 0.
We pondered making this the “official” line right up until deadline, but decided to blend a mixture of the poll and guesses we’re hearing from others with our instincts. But here’s why (and it reflects heavily on how we perceive what’s definitely been a different campaign than before).
Labor is an incredibly strong presence in the community as we’ve known it, but that community is changing alarmingly fast. In addition to the layoffs at Store Norske (obviously part of the “base,” especially with their union leader set to become the city’s next mayor unless he’s caught with a dead girl or a live boy), the percentage of foreign residents here is rising.
That should ensure stability for the Conservatives, since one of their top candidates is Thai (a large and very worried group of locals) and many of the lead candidates work in the tourism industry. The Liberal Party’s main problem may simply be a question of their “base” aside from those already supporting the party on the mainland. Frankly, their biggest mistake may have been not making current council member Kristin Furu Grøtting – until now a Non-Partisan Party member and a former citizen of the year winner for her community involvement – the lead candidate since she would have undoubtably inspired many voters to follow her.
Which brings us to the Greens.
We honestly don’t know what kind of get-out-the-vote operation the other parties have, so the following may be sheer idiocy, but we suspect the Greens will get nearly every single person in their camp to the polls if they haven’t already in early voting (which has been higher than in previous years). Furthermore, we suspect they may be tapping into a huge “hidden” constituency that hasn’t been a central focus before, even though the environment is obviously what draws so many people here. Plus, if they can score a “shocking” victory in “the crown jewel of Norway” it will obviously be something they can trumpet loudly during the national debates in Oslo.
And just so folks don’t think we’re in their pockets (after all, one of their biggest activists is an advertiser), let’s just say our editor will literally eat one of his own newspapers if Parliament ever approves building windmills here for power-generating purposes. He was in Antarctica and saw a similar test project fail on a comical scale. We have a strange fondness of watching thousands of them spin in places like Germany, but here we’re more inclined to recall visions of the “trash people” army a few years back that looked more like Custer’s Last Stand when a blizzard blew them over.
That said, how would a large Green opposition affect the council’s debate and decisions? Again, to disappoint them, far less than they might hope. The Conservatives would almost certainly align with the Liberals on decisions of economic/industrial importance, making the Greens a very vocal minority, but one unable to accomplish their primary goals. A lot of their effectiveness, ironically, may be determined by how much they emulate their nemesis in places like the U.S., where Conservatives have decided purity is preferable to practicality. If the local Greens are willing to do more than stand fast – and to their credit, there seems to be a willingness to compromise to achieve larger goals – then that “shocking” minority may actually have a significant voice.