Your Royal Highness,
Fellow Members of the Storting,
Today, we open the 165th Storting. Once again, we as elected representatives of the people take our seats in this chamber to address the important responsibilities that have been entrusted to us.
This year’s opening ceremony bears witness to the fact that the parliamentary session we are embarking on is no ordinary session. There are fewer of us present. The plexiglass that divides us from one another is visible proof of this new reality.
The last parliamentary session was the most unusual we have had in peacetime. Norwegian society, each and every one of us, the local authorities, the branches of the state – we – were put to the test.
As Members of Parliament, we have been entrusted with making the biggest and most important decisions on behalf of the people. This brings with it the obligation to carry out our duties in a proper and open manner, day in, day out.
We have also been elected in the faith that we have the capacity and determination to deal with the unexpected when necessary.
Confidence in us is heightened by what I believe we displayed when uncertainty was at its peak this spring: our political culture has a core of unity. Not a unity that erases discord, but a unity that makes it possible to find common solutions when required.
The crisis demanded hard work. We worked quickly, and were able to deal with a large number of important matters in a short time.
It entailed weighing up difficult choices and required extraordinary measures, both political, formal and practical.
It is in times of crisis that our enduring values are put to the test. Everything we do must withstand the test of our constitutional and democratic standards. And above all, the people we are here to serve.
Public trust in the authorities is high. And it appears to have grown during the Corona crisis.
Yet we neither want, need nor deserve blind trust. Fortunately, we don’t get it. The continuing trust of the Norwegian people depends on our ability to listen to advice and to take justified criticism into consideration. We must be capable of having the difficult debates that are necessary to find the best solutions. Never more so than when most is at stake.
Today we embark on the last session of the current parliamentary term. This will be no serene final lap. More than ever, we must accept that we simply do not know what the coming year will bring.
Our most common duty is to adjust course and to build long term. Yet this autumn and winter, once again, we are more likely to be spending much of our time putting out fires.
In the months ahead, it’s quite possible that many people’s livelihoods will be more than usually dependent, often acutely and from one day to the next, on the work we perform. On the specific decisions we make here in this chamber.
We therefore embark on the last year of this parliamentary term in the full knowledge that this will be no cruise to the finish line. It will be hard graft to the very end.
Many of us will also be setting out on the election campaign trail in the coming year. We have no idea how this campaign will shape up. But we know that as well as highlighting our political differences, the campaigning must be conducted with respect.
There is no excuse for meeting trying times with harsher words. We must continue to stand united against intimidation and injustice.
We have every reason to shoulder the faith we have been shown with pride. Let us continue to perform our duties with honour.
As we convene once again to carry out our weighty duties, it is in recognition of the vital tasks ahead and the responsibilities we have assumed.
Let us rise and unite in the traditional words:
God save the King and the Fatherland!