Norway populist fails in Nobel bid


Oslo (AFP)

A controversial former leader of Norway's anti-immigration party on Friday failed in his bid to join the committee that awards the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

According to Alfred Nobel's will, the five members of the committee are elected by the Norwegian Parliament, which takes into account the balance of political power.

The populist right-wing Progress Party, currently a junior partner in Norway's two-party coalition, proposed its outspoken former party leader Carl I. Hagen, now a deputy MP, for one of the seats.

But 73-year-old Hagen only received 16 votes, while 86 were cast in support of Labour party candidate, Berit Reiss-Andersen, in a ballot to partially renew the committee on Friday.

Hagen, a substitute MP, is known for his inflammatory rhetoric. He once said that "a society without ethnic minorities is a harmonious society".

His inclusion in the vote came despite an attempt to block his candidacy, after other parties on Tuesday adopted a rule banning members of parliament and their substitutes from joining the committee.

They stressed the need to highlight the Nobel committee's independence from the state in the aftermath of a diplomatic crisis that erupted between China and Norway after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

Hagen accused the other parties of being "desperate to obstruct" him and of "changing the rules of the game".