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You'll never guess who I had in the front of my cab the other day..
August 11, 2013 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Norway's Prime Minister, facing a leadership challenge, has taken a somewhat unique approach to reconnect with voters.
posted by MuffinMan (39 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's the demographic of taxi users in Norway? Would he have got a different set of opinions if he'd driven a bus? It's just not scientific! And I hope he declared any tips.
posted by Abiezer at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't want my Prime Minister titting about in a cab in a cynical and futile attempt at PR ("let's reconnect with the citizenry!") when he has a country to run. Guess now that ideology has largely become obsolete in developed countries, politicians have to differentiate themselves on a individual level as opposed on the ideological or party level.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:18 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know - the mayor of my city made a point of using public transit extensively during the last campaign; it was a great way of connecting with people and a chance to discuss transit issues at the same time. It was part of what made him accessible - you didn't have to go to an event to see him; he might just show up on your bus or LRT car. I think it does a lot to remove the sense of inacessibility that surrounds most modern politicians.

I'm guessing the taxi approach is similar, but more controlled from a security perspective (prime minister versus mayoral candidate). It could work, but my question is if its the most time effective method. One appearance on public transit at rush hour would likely net you 60-70 people you have an interaction with; a taxi gives you 1-2 in probably the same time frame. But it's a longer interaction, so that might balance it - a better conversation, more in depth. Provided the folks in the cab carry the conversation out to their friends, it might help.
posted by nubs at 11:33 AM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think this about making him accessible to ordinary people or actually understanding their concerns. This is a gimmick for a campaign video.
posted by Area Man at 11:38 AM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it's a great idea if it were done secretly, for a substantial amount of time (a day each week for four months, say), and not in any way recorded and used for campaign/PR purposes. It's not going to be representative of the whole population, but it will have the significant virtue of not being self-selected "I have a particular reason to go to a town-hall or otherwise speak my mind to the Prime Minister/TV reporter/whoever" which is a very skewed demographic. In many countries, you'd find that taxi passengers are very ignorant and uninterested. But how and what they're ignorant and uninterested about will be revealing.

It's too bad that only the leaders of smaller, safer countries and/or lower-level politicians could do this — I think a sitting President of the US would learn quite a bit during his term by doing this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:40 AM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ivan's comment reminded me of the legends of kings and emperors going among the common folk in disguise to hear the vox populi - the Qianlong Emperor was supposed to have made six visits to the south dressed as a commoner.
posted by Abiezer at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, scene i.
posted by hippybear at 11:59 AM on August 11, 2013


Obama pilots drones on weekends to reconnect.

Nope. Tuesday morning is when he remotely controls the United States into executing sky murders.
posted by srboisvert at 12:00 PM on August 11, 2013


The population of Norway (5 million) is comparable to a large American city.
posted by Harald74 at 12:11 PM on August 11, 2013


BTW, Norwegian TV is moving politicians in with different "regular" folks a week at a time. Here's a somewhat legible translation into English courtesy of Google.
posted by Harald74 at 12:14 PM on August 11, 2013


Meanwhile...in Toronto.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:17 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The population of Norway (5 million) is comparable to a large American city.

Well, yes and no. There are a lot of metropolitan areas which undoubtedly go over 5 million, but as far as actual incorporated cities go, only NYC is 5 million or larger, with 8.3 million. The next largest is Los Angeles with 3.8 million.
posted by hippybear at 12:18 PM on August 11, 2013


What's the demographic of taxi users in Norway?

1:18: "No, don't get a taxi! It's too expensive!"
posted by iviken at 12:19 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama would shit rainbows if his leadership challenges were comparable to Norway's. Our local leaders (pop. 125,000) tried to "reconnect" by going on exercise walks in neighborhoods. Except they never leave their own neighborhoods, where the only brown people are tending the lawns.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:23 PM on August 11, 2013


"...but as far as actual incorporated cities go, only NYC is 5 million or larger..."

Yes, but, as I wrote in a recent MeTa thread, the "incorporated city" metric is often misleading and so not very useful. Metro area is much better.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:27 PM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"incorporated city" metric is often misleading and so not very useful. Metro area is much better.

People on this side of the utterly artificial line in the same conurbation pay taxes like this...
posted by jaduncan at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


True enough. But that still means there are only 9 metropolitan statistical areas in the US which are over 5 million.
posted by hippybear at 12:31 PM on August 11, 2013


"...not driven in eight years." Campaign to enhance the public's trust in his person, eh?
posted by Namlit at 1:14 PM on August 11, 2013


And there are 4,642,526 Norwegian-Americans, and at least one Franco-Norwegian-American-Oregonian. In other words I'm at a loss for the population comparison derail. Is there a point or is it yet another "we can't compare the US and Norway in spite of both countries being inhabited by human beings"?

Taking public transportation is a pretty good way to hear about voter concerns. Norway being a pretty rich country, I suppose being a taxi driver would get you middle-class citizens, though I'm curious why he chose that in Oslo, where I imagine there would also be quite a few tourists. There aren't many non-business-people and non-tourists who take taxis where I live. But our local politicians tend to walk or take buses.
posted by fraula at 1:16 PM on August 11, 2013


fraula: "though I'm curious why he chose that in Oslo, where I imagine there would also be quite a few tourists"

Foreign tourists in Oslo can't afford to take taxis. They're busy saving up for beer, which costs up to 16 dollars for a half liter.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:28 PM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cool gimmick. If you set aside cynicism for a second, can you imagine the leader of any G8 country doing the same thing? In Canada the most daring attempt at authenticity is to put the PM in a sweater.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obama is like a hawk if you think about it! Or a Condor!
posted by Teakettle at 1:44 PM on August 11, 2013


Have you ever bought a Pizza in Norway? Mortgage time. He'd become SO popular had he given away pizzas for free. With his sunglasses and all. Yup, especially among tourists.
posted by Namlit at 1:45 PM on August 11, 2013


"It is important for me to hear what people really think," he told Norwegian media.

Shut the fuck up and drive, you chattering gnome!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 2:13 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


In Canada the most daring attempt at authenticity is to put the PM in a sweater.

That's Harper, though. Chrétien was pretty different. I knew the son of one of his security detail, he used to drive them crazy by jumping out of his chauffeured car at the intersection to grab some Harvey's.
posted by Hoopo at 2:18 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the demographic of taxi users in Norway?

Drunk middle class white people surprised to find themselves having the same conversation with an immigrant all over again.
posted by klue at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2013


This might be a good place to put this blog post (mangled by google translate), where a friend of mine tells of meeting Stoltenberg and the then foreign minister out bicycling (apparently on their own) in the forests north of Norway just a couple of weeks after the terrorist attacks two years ago.

There are of course major differences between the parties, but the political system in Norway is so different from the American system that it is not really comparable. E.g: the conservative party (the republicans) appears to always have a bigger float in the gay pride parade in Oslo than the left wing socialist parties.
posted by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen at 2:59 PM on August 11, 2013


Baron Humbert von Gikkingen: "E.g: the conservative party (the republicans) appears to always have a bigger float in the gay pride parade in Oslo than the left wing socialist parties."

This may have something to do with them having had some of the first and most prominent openly gay Norwegian politicians.

Although it's also important to note that the Norwegian Conservative party is (today) a party of moderate center-conservatives and classical liberals, and is probably more than anything comparable to the American Democrats. The now larger Progress party represents a populist right-wing anti-immigrant standpoint that might be more familiar to Americans.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:20 PM on August 11, 2013


the conservative party (the republicans) appears to always have a bigger float in the gay pride parade in Oslo

The conservatives had the first openly gay (acting) head of government in modern times. Not surprising, really.
posted by klue at 3:21 PM on August 11, 2013


I think Rob Ford should try this.

Eh... maybe not.
posted by klanawa at 4:04 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a cool gimmick. Yeah, it's a PR stunt, but it's election time. Sitting PMs are always going to spend a certain amount of time on pre-election PR. I expect Krudd wouldn't do it without an AFP detail in the car, which would rather diminish the gag.
posted by pompomtom at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2013


[A couple of comments deleted. Sorry guys, but let's not derail every not-Obama, not-US thread into an Obama, US discussion -- we do have plenty of those. Thanks. ]
posted by taz at 10:37 PM on August 11, 2013


My company has a new CEO who rides the C-Train into work, it's a big change from the old CEO who used to take limos and not want to mix with the working folk. This guy engages and actually says hello in the morning as you get in the elevator, whereas the old CEO always looked rather miffed that there was no executive elevator to the ivory tower. Guess who I'd rather be working for?
posted by arcticseal at 1:11 AM on August 12, 2013


For me, the most incredible thing about this, stunt or not, is the inherent faith that acts of violence against government or violent acts in the name of anti-government beliefs are rare acts and should not place barriers between people and their politicians.

Bearing in mind that Prime Minister Olof Palme in neighbouring Sweden was murdered in 1986, Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh was stabbed in 2003, and it is barely two years since Anders Brevik committed mass murder with an explicit anti-Labour Party (Stoltenberg is a Labour Prime Minister) far right and anti-Islamic agenda.

At the time of Brevik's attacks, Stoltenberg said the country would "not be intimidated or threatened" by the attacks and would "stand firm in defending our values" and the "open, tolerant and inclusive society."

In October last year Norwegian politicians were warned that the "fear of a [Islamic] terror attack on Norway has never been greater" and it was reported last month that Norwegian politicians "have received more threats [from the far right] than they did before the terrorist attack two years ago" in the run up to the election.

That's an impressive and brave commitment to an open democracy.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:12 AM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It reminded me of The Flight of The Conchords' depiction of the New Zealand prime minister. However I have a Norwegian friend who once told me about meeting one of Stoltenberg's (in office) predecessors while on a hike and chatting with him for a bit - so I have a feeling this would not be seen as such a bizarre gesture in Norway as it would in other countries.
posted by rongorongo at 2:07 AM on August 12, 2013


I don't know - the mayor of my city made a point of using public transit extensively during the last campaign; it was a great way of connecting with people

Speaking of politicians connecting with people, a few years ago I almost connected with the mayor of amsterdam when he almost ran me over with his bike...
posted by MartinWisse at 3:12 AM on August 12, 2013


He should have made it like Cash Cab.
posted by Kabanos at 8:26 AM on August 12, 2013


Update: several of the "passengers" in Stoltenbergs taxi were paid "actors", found by "street casting".
posted by iviken at 11:38 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, shitbird. That's all I have to say.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:48 PM on August 12, 2013


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