October 21, 2008

Angry Northern Norwegians Talk Secession

A Facebook group of northern Norwegians unhappy about losing the Winter Olympics has ballooned into a new political party in less than two weeks.

"It's clear that folks along the coast of this country believe that enough's enough," Hakon Winther, one of those who started the ball rolling, told iTromso.no.

Membership in the Facebook group ballooned to 6,200 within days, inspiring leaders to call a meeting Tuesday to form a secessionist party.

Winther said that the proposed Republikken Halogaland would include the present counties of Nordland, Troms and Finnmark along with the Svalbard archipelago and remote Jan Mayen Island. While much of the area consists of lightly populated mountains and islands north of the Arctic Circle, there are a number of cities, including Bodo, Narvik and Tromso.

The impetus for the original Facebook group was the decision by the government to drop a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Tromso, the world's northernmost city. Winther is bitter about the "arrogance" of Norwegians in the "Ostlandet" or Oslo area, the report said.

Marcus Buck, a political science expert at the University of Tromso, said that he does not believe the anger over the Olympics will translate into secession.