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Somali-Norwegian political trailblazer vying for deputy leader in Norway's Socialist Left Party

Saturday March 18, 2023

Storting representative Marian Hussein has been proposed to the election committee as the new deputy leader of SV. PHOTO: JAVAD M. PARSA / NTB

Oslo (HOL) - Marian Hussein from Oslo and Lars Haltbrekken from Trøndelag are both vying for the position of deputy leader in Norway's Socialist Left Party (SV).

Marian Hussein, a representative in Norway's supreme legislature, the Storting, hopes to be elected SV's deputy leader during the upcoming national meeting. Meanwhile, Lars Haltbrekken, the long-standing leader of the Nature Conservation Association, is also vying for the position.

In February, the election committee of SV was divided on whether to elect Lars Haltbrekken or Marian Hussein as the party's new deputy leader. Four committee members supported Haltbrekken, while three preferred Marian Hussein.

The election committee's chairman, Pål Julius Skogholt, who supports Hussein's bid for deputy leader, said, "We have had many good candidates to become deputy chairman. We are left with two excellent candidates, both of whom can do an excellent job as deputy leader of SV."

The election committee unanimously endorsed Kirsti Bergstø as the new SV leader and Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes as one of the two deputy leaders.

Hussein's supporters believe that the party needs new voices and profiles in leadership roles to broaden the party's appeal and reach new voters. Hussein is the party's spokesperson for health policy and made history as the first parliamentary representative of African descent in Norway's supreme legislature. 

Hussein has worked as a nursing assistant, environmental therapist, research assistant, and in child welfare services. She is overwhelmed by the trust of the election committee and, if elected, would be the first deputy leader in Norway with an African background.

Hussein, who was born in Somalia and moved to Norway when she was ten years old, told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK, "Having my experience both from frontline service and as a refugee has been important for my political involvement in SV. Expanding the party so that people in Groruddalen also feel that they have power and influence in top Norwegian politics has been important to me."

Marian Abdi Hussein has been a deputy representative for Oslo from 2017 to 2021. She was elected representative to the Storting from the constituency of Oslo for the period 2021–2025

"If elected, I will be the first deputy leader in Norway with an African background. I feel that this is an opportunity for us as a party to show a greater breadth of who we are and to show new voters and members that we take their votes seriously," said Hussein.

Marian Hussein and Lars Haltbrekken are in a battle for the position of deputy leader. Here they have a polite snowball fight in the dirty weather at Gardermoen. Photo: Hallgeir Vågenes / VG

Hussein's opponent, Haltbrekken, is a veteran of the environmental movement and has been the party's leading figure in discussing how Norway's electricity crisis should be handled. Both candidates are confident of victory at the national assembly votes, which will take place on Saturday.

Haltbrekken is optimistic that the party will thrive regardless of the outcome, acknowledging Hussein's excellent qualities. Similarly, Hussein believes the party will benefit from a fair process and national gatherings where all participants feel included, regardless of the winner.

The party is expected to choose Kirsti Bergstø as the new leader, succeeding Audun Lysbakken.


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