Erna Solberg has stated several times that it is the government’s privilege to appoint a central bank governor.
But in secret, Solberg has on at least three occasions had confidential direct contact with Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum about former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s candidacy for the job.
Stoltenberg (62) is fighting to become central bank governor for Norges Bank against the current deputy central bank governor Ida Wolden Bache (49).
Neither Solberg nor Vedum will be interviewed by TV 2 about the contact the two have had.
The hitherto unknown dialogue between the two party leaders began on December 13 last year, when Vedum called the Conservative leader to tell her that her predecessor as prime minister had become a job seeker.
Notified Solberg about the applicant list
“I was, as parliamentary leader in the Conservative Party, called by the Minister of Finance in December and informed that the list of applicants for the position of central bank governor would be published and that Stoltenberg was the applicant,” Solberg writes in an e-mail to TV 2.
On 14 December, the Ministry of Finance presented the list of applicants, and several parties expressed skepticism that Stoltenberg was one of the applicants.
Solberg warned of criticism
A short month later, on Friday 7 January, Solberg picked up the phone and called Vedum. This time to tell that her own deputy would go out in Today’s business with a warning against hiring Stoltenberg.
“Tina Bru wanted to say to the outside world that there had been an unrest in the Conservative Party linked to Stoltenberg as central bank governor and share her opinion on it. I thought it was neat to notify Vedum of this, so that there would be no bardust on him. ” writes Solberg.
FIGHTING FOR THE JOB: Deputy Governor Ida Wolden Bache and NATO Secretary General, Norway’s former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
At this point had Today’s business announced that the Ministry of Finance aimed to appoint a new central bank governor on Friday 14 January. The information was not rejected by the ministry.
Turned around control case
But Solberg also had one more thing on his mind: the Storting’s control and constitution committee and their possible role in the case.
“I emphasized in the conversation that it is the government’s privilege to hire a central bank governor, and that I therefore did not consider it probable with a control case after a possible appointment of Stoltenberg.” writes Solberg.
In the days that followed, a number of revelations came about what had happened behind the scenes before Stoltenberg got involved in getting the job as head of Norges Bank.
Among other things about dinners between Stoltenberg, oil fund manager Nicolai Tangen and Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre.
This led Solberg to change his opinion about the possibilities for the Control and Constitution Committee to open a case against Vedum.
Opened for control case by sms
The Conservative leader gave that message directly to Vedum in a text message on Tuesday 11 January at 10.47.
“Hi! Just to be neat. There have been a lot of dinner conversations and disorder in the media since Friday. This may mean rounds in the control committee after a possible appointment. We do not plan for it, but can not rule it out “wrote Solberg in the text message.
Solberg has sent the content of the text message at the request of TV 2.
Then the appointment was postponed
Just over an hour later, Vedum’s communications manager, Therese Riiser, went out Aftenposten and stated that the appointment would not take place in the cabinet that week.
TV 2 has asked several questions in writing to Solberg and also asked for an interview with her about the case, but the Conservative leader refuses to ask for an interview about the case. She justifies this with the fact that she does not think it is natural to tell what another party leader has told her in a confidential conversation.
Nor will Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum be interviewed.
“The Minister of Finance asked me to convey the following to you:” The SMS you refer to is recorded in accordance with the regulations. I am concerned that there should be a proper and orderly hiring process. This process is still ongoing in the ministry. I have no further comment on the text message you are referring to. “” Writes Vedum’s State Secretary Lars Vangen (Sp) in a text message to TV 2.