Sometimes, you have to get really close with your constituents to understand what they really think of politics, what they think of their lives, and what they think of you. This is a very hard thing to do, especially when you are elected official, and thus everyone wears a mask around you because of your own public mask or persona, so moonlighting is often the most likely solution. Plus, just getting people to talk freely is very difficult task in and of itself. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg thought up of a clever solution to this long-understood problem: Drive a taxi.
Prime Minister Stoltenberg spent a day in June doing precisely that, driving passengers around Oslo, and filmed the episode, as seen above. Stoltenberg would engage with any and all of his customers, as is standard practice among taxi drivers, and gauge their views. During the process, Stoltenberg would let his passengers figure out who he was exactly, and only then confirm his identity. It was a rare opportunity for anyone, let alone Norwegians, to actually engage with an elected official at a casual, even level.
Stoltenberg, as leader of the Norwegian Labor Party, currently faces a parliamentary election on September 9. Based on current polls, the opposition coalition is set to win a clear majority of seats, and has been leading in the polls since early last year. Stoltenberg's tactic of reaching out to voters is pretty clever, and may help in the short term. But given that the government has been in power for eight years after a very close election in 2009, Stoltenberg's moonlighting may not be enough. In fact, if his party does lose badly, it may end with Stoltenberg working as a taxi driver for real.
(Media Sources: Arbeiderpartiet/Guardian, Socialdemokraterna)