A symbol. This is what they have become, ten years after surviving the most violent attack on Norwegian soil since World War II. On October 14, Tonje Brenna, 34, and Jan Christian Vestre, 35, joined the government of Social Democrat Jonas Gahr Støre, elected in September. Visibly moved, the Prime Minister expressed his » pride « to see them join his team and noted that, “Ten years later, we can say that democracy has won”.
New Minister of Education, Tonje Brenna acknowledges that her appointment and that of Jan Christian Vestre constitute « A strong image of the failure of terrorism ». Because, she recalls, on July 22, 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb in front of the seat of government, then led by Labor, then that the far-right terrorist attacked the summer camp of the League of Young Labor (AUF) on the island of Utøya, « His objective was to stop recruiting for the Labor Party ».
Haunted by ghosts
On October 14, Jan Christian Vestre, the new Minister of Industry, could not help but think of those absent: “When we walked out of the audience with the king and found ourselves in front of the castle, I glanced at Tonje, he recounts. And I thought, there you go, it’s the two of us, but it could have been anyone. I started to think about the others, so talented, who were brutally murdered. They could have become ministers too, succeeded in the corporate world or even had ordinary jobs. They would have founded families. » These ghosts, which haunt them, are never far away.
Like many political leaders in Norway, Jan Christian Vestre and Tonje Brenna started their careers in their party’s youth movement. Each political formation has its own. With its 14,000 members, the AUF is the largest. Talent nurseries, these organizations also function as idea boxes for the parties, which consult them and do not escape their criticism, if the young people feel that their elders do not go far enough in defending the values of the party and implementation of a sufficiently ambitious policy.
In 2011, Tonje Brenna was secretary general of AUF. Jan Chistian Vestre had been appointed to lead the movement. Former president of the Norwegian Pupils’ Association, he worked as an advisor to Parliament. When they talk about their commitment, the two young ministers evoke the dream of a « Egalitarian society », the « International solidarity », the » fight against racism « … Everything that Anders Behring Breivik abhorred.
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