Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jens Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg (born 16 March 1959) is a Norwegian politician, leader of the Norwegian Labour Party and the current Prime Minister of Norway. Having assumed office on 17 October 2005, Stoltenberg previously served as Prime Minister from 2000 to 2001.

Having first been elected to Parliament in 1993 for the Oslo constituency, Stoltenberg served as State Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment from 1990 to 1991 and as Minister of Industry from 1993 to 1996 in the Third Brundtland Cabinet, respectively. Following the resignation of Brundtland in 1996, Thorbjørn Jagland was elected leader of the Labour Party and became Prime Minister, while Stoltenberg was appointed Minister of Finance, an office he held until 17 October 1997 when Jagland and the entire government resigned. While in parliamentary opposition, Stoltenberg served in the standing committees on energy affairs. Following a motion of confidence against the First Bondevik Cabinet, Stoltenberg was appointed Prime Minister on 3 March 2000, despite being deputy leader of the party, and not the party leader.

After poor results in the 2001 parliamentary election, and the subsequent fall of his government on 19 October of that same year, Stoltenberg successfully challenged Thorbjørn Jagland for the party leadership in 2002, and led the party to victory in the 2005 election by forming a Red-Green coalition government with the Centre Party (Sp) and the Socialist Left Party (SV). He was re-elected in 2009 for another term as Prime Minister of Norway.

Personal Life
Stoltenberg grew up in a political family. His father, Thorvald Stoltenberg, is one of the most prominent politicians in Norway and a former Foreign Minister; his mother Karin Stoltenberg was a junior minister. The late Marianne Heiberg, married to former Foreign Minister Johan Jørgen Holst, was his aunt on his mother's side. Stoltenberg is married to the diplomat Ingrid Schulerud and has two children, Axel Stoltenberg and Catharina Stoltenberg. He was raised in the Waldorf Education system as formulated by Rudolf Steiner, and educated at the Oslo katedralskole and the University of Oslo. He likes to spend his summer vacations on the Hvaler Islands in the Oslo fjord. In the winter he is an active cross-country skiier. He has two sisters: Camilla, a medical researcher and administrator who is one year older than he; and Nini who is four years younger. Nini is a recovering heroin addict, and the Norwegian media have covered the family's efforts to cope with this challenge. Jens Stoltenberg has admitted to using cannabis in his youth. He has recently asked the department of Justice to evaluate his impartiality in the upcoming government treatment of the Stoltenberg Commission's (headed by his father, Thorvald Stoltenberg) report on drugs.

Radical teen years
Stoltenberg's first steps into politics came when he was in his early teens and was influenced by his sister Camilla, who at the time was a member of the then Marxist-Leninist group Red Youth. Opposition to the Vietnam War was his triggering motivation. Following raids of heavy bombing against the North Vietnamese port city Hai Phong at the end of the Vietnam War, he participated in protest rallies targeting the United States Embassy in Oslo. He threw stones at the building and broke several windows. He escaped arrest by the police, though several of his friends were caught.

The parking incident
In 2001, shortly after he had quit after his first term as prime minister, Stoltenberg gained some negative media attention when he crashed with a parked car in a parking lot. According to an eye witness, an employee of the Norwegian High Command with a security clearance, Stoltenberg went over to check on the other car twice, and the eye witness thought he fastened a note to the windscreen of the damaged car. Then Stoltenberg took off in his car, a Saab 9-3 leased to the Labour Party, and the High Command employee approached the damaged vehicle to check what had been written on the note that was clamped under the windscreen wiper but discovered it was just a blank parking receipt. The damages to the parked car amounted to NOK 8,000 (about US $1,300). The day after the story broke in the media Stoltenberg said he had made a blunder which he regretted. He explained not leaving a notice with having been unable to find a pen.

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