The Hilarious Thing Norway's Prime Minister Did Last Friday

The Hilarious Thing Norway's Prime Minister Did Last Friday

Consider the case of Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway. He's currently running for re-election. He's behind in the polls, and the vote will be held in less than a month. But what Stoltenberg lacks in popularity as a policymaker, he might just make up for with his latest stunt.

Stoltenberg's approval rating is at a weak 36%. Government spending has grown by 19% in the last eight months alone. Stoltenberg has been very willing to expand the welfare state, financed by oil money, and causing a rise in inflation. Even greater than the concern that Stoltenberg may be overheating the oil fund is the desire among Norwegians for a change in the government that has had Stoltenberg in power since 2005. What's a struggling candidate to do? 

Since this is Norway, one might imagine a Viking raid on is opponent's campaigning headquarters — throwing his opponent off of a fjord,some form of a reindeer attack, or, at the very least, some good old-fashioned mudslinging.

Instead, Stoltenberg spent an afternoon as a taxi driver, talking to everyday Norwegians about things that matter to them.  

Some may think of this as just another politician desperate to prove he's a regular guy. But I think that Stoltenberg has done something more here, by setting up a metaphor for governance: The prime minster is in the driver's seat, but it is the people who hired him — the passengers — who are calling the shots.  The voters (passengers) decide on a direction for the country, and they hire the head of state to help steer them there.  

I personally disagree with the direction in which Stoltenberg has led Norway, but I'm not a paying passenger (a Norwegian taxpayer, for metaphorical purposes). I am solely evaluating his latest publicity stunt, and I think it's been a good one. This exercise in service-based leadership is a refreshing reminder of the intended relationship between policymakers and constitutents.