OSLO – In a bid to find out voters’ real concerns, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg revealed Sunday that he went undercover as a taxi driver for an afternoon.
“It’s important for me to hear what people really think. If there’s one place where people say what they think, it’s in the taxi,” he said in a video posted on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The video was released while campaigning was in full swing for the Sept. 9 general election, which Stoltenberg’s center-left coalition appears likely to lose.
Stoltenberg wore an Oslo Taxi uniform one afternoon in June and picked up passengers in a black Mercedes in the capital.
A camera in the cab recorded reactions from the passengers, including one who remarked, “From this angle, you really look like the prime minister.”
An elderly woman who also recognized Stoltenberg urged him to do something about the salaries of corporate bosses, complaining that “they should not make millions like that.”
From the back seat of the cab, voters discussed issues ranging from education to oil policy.
Stoltenberg admitted to one fare that he had not driven in eight years. “I think it is going rather well,” the young female passenger replied. “At least I am alive.”
Another female passenger was less impressed after he slammed on the brakes. “This driving is not exactly the best I have seen,” she said, laughing. “I am not satisfied with this driving.”
The passengers did not have to pay for their journeys.
The Labor leader has steered the Norwegian economy — buoyed by the country’s oil wealth — through the 2008 financial crisis virtually unscathed.
But his party, which took office in 2005, has seen support slide, as it is viewed as having been in power for too long.