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Norway attacks intensify political resolve of many youths

The Norway massacre may shape the views of an entire generation. Already, youth parties, both liberal and conservative, are reporting membership surges.

July 28, 2011|By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times

Havard Narum, a political columnist for Norway's Aftenposten newspaper, said he expects the Labor Party to enjoy a short-term boost as a gesture of sympathy. In recent years, the Labor Party — historically the dominant party among Norway's young — has been losing support to right-leaning rivals, such as the Conservative Party and the Progress Party.

Breivik may have succeeded in drawing attention to his anti-immigration views, Narum said, but his tactics may have made the climate too sensitive for right-wing parties to even raise the issue in the foreseeable future.

The long-term political impact of the attacks remains unclear. "But one way or another, I believe this will have consequences for the whole political climate for quite a long time," Narum said.

As the identities of more victims are released and funerals take place nationwide, parents are also grappling with how to answer their younger children's questions and ease their fears.

"My son keeps asking me, 'Why?'" said Anita Kleemp, 48, an unemployed mother, standing next to her 5-year-old boy in downtown Oslo. "But I really don't know what to tell him."

She said she thinks it's nonetheless crucial to discuss the tragedy with her youngster. On Monday, she brought him to the downtown Oslo bombing site to observe a national moment of silence. Later, they stood in front of the courthouse and waited for a chance to see Breivik being driven to his initial closed-door judicial hearing.

"I wanted my son to see that [Breivik's] in jail so he won't be afraid," Kleemp said. "But also I just thought we should be here. It's part of the Norway experience. I want him to remember."

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

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