Norway's island shooting survivors run for parliament

Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:15am EDT
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By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) - On a sunny day in Oslo, Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, a survivor of the shooting at the Labour Party's youth camp on Utoeya island, gives out roses and discusses politics with shoppers.

The 29-year old is hoping to get elected to parliament in September, along with 26 others who survived the attack by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22 2011.

Wennesland barricaded himself with others in a red wooden cabin and hid under a bed while Breivik shot dead 69 people hours after planting a car bomb outside the prime minister's office in central Oslo, killing eight.

"Someone tried to kill me for what I believed in. So I am going to fight for it," Wennesland says of his reasons for running for office for Labour. "It is taken for granted that we can freely do politics. It should not be."

It is the first parliamentary vote since the attacks took place but the number of young candidates is not unusual. Norway, like the other Nordic countries, has a long tradition of involving young people early on in politics.

The current prime minister, Labour's Jens Stoltenberg, became a parliamentarian aged 32 while his probable successor, the Conservatives' Erna Solberg, was elected aged 28.

However, the 27 survivors who have been picked from the AUF youth wing of the Labour party to run are expected to be slightly different to previous generations.

The attacks appear to have affirmed the ideas of AUF members' confidence in standing up for their views, which are traditionally more left-leaning than the rest of Labour. Usually, once they get to parliament, they embrace the more mainstream views of the rest of the party.   Continued...

Vegard Groeslie Wennesland (L), a survivor of the shooting on Utoeya island, together with Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide (2nd L), speaks with voters in Oslo June 15, 2013. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche