What initially seemed like a clever campaign stunt has become a huge problem for Norway’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, and his Labour Party.
The party posted a video of Stoltenberg posing as a taxi driver, talking lightheartedly with his passengers and asking them about their concerns with government. Since going up on YouTube Sunday, the video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times.
Now, the opposition Progress Party is saying the public has been “cheated” in light of revelations that the passengers in the video were each paid 500 kroner (about $90) for their appearances in the video by the production company Try, which is run by one of Stoltenberg’s close friends.
Stoltenberg and his party maintain that the interactions in the video are spontaneous. The five people in the video were simply asked if they wanted to take part in a Labour Party video and only knew they were being picked up in a taxi, a party spokeswoman said.
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Stoltenberg told Norway’s VG newspaper that he didn’t know his passengers were paid and that he picked some people up randomly.
“No one who came into the taxi knew that I was the driver,” he said. “And that was the whole point.”