This year’s selection of the Nobel Peace Prize started an online outcry the second it was announced. For many people, including the recipient himself, is was a shock that hear that president Barack Obama was awarded. And Norwegians were among those who reacted most strongly against the decision from the Norwegian Nobel committee. Not because Norwegians dislike or disapprove of Obama, rather opposite. During the election campaign, 79 percent of Norwegians prefered Obama rather than the Republican candidate, John McCain.
But awarding him the Nobel Prize after just 10 months in office have been hard to swallow, even for Norwegians.
One of the first tweets that circulated was this: “Obama had been in office in 11 days when the nomination ended” (my translation). And as all social media topics these days, the decision got its own “fail” tag, #fredsprisfail (PeacePrizeFail)
The reactions have been raging from people demanding that Torbjørn Jagland, the leader of the Nobel Prize committee, should resign, to people demanding Obama should not accept the prize. Jagland was recently elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe. One blogger has written a formal complaint to the committee on his blog, and a Swedish blogger, Åsa Linderborg, has suggested to dissolve the prize all together.
Politicians such as the social media active Bård Vegar Solhjell (minister of Education), has speculated on Twitter whether the prize will hurt Obama at home or not, and written a huge question mark after Obama’s name in a blog post.
43 percent of Norwegians meant it was right to give the peace prize to Obama, while 38 percent opposed it. 19 percent had not made up their mind according to a recent survey by Synovate, but if you check the online polls, the numbers are opposite, such as in VG.no. It is also characteristic that the young ones are most critical against the committee’s choice, among the 18 -25 years old, only 25 percent are positiv to Obama as a peace prize winner, 42 percent are negative. Among those over 6o years, 58 percent meant that the decision was right.
It has become political incorrect in Norway to say that Nobel committee made the right decision, according to this blogger (who actually supports the decision). One of the commentators in the same tread is even ashamed to be Norwegian because of the committee’s decision.
For more international discussions surrounding the Nobel committee and their decision, follow the Twitter search for Nobel – as you can see, it is full of jokes, both about Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize is also a hot topic at the Swedish blog search engine Twingly. Here is the only article where one of the committee member have been interviewed; “He did not seem very happy” said Inger Mari Ytterholm about Obama when he met the press after the Nobel announcement.