Posted on September 27, 2013

Norway’s New Premier to Meet Anti-Immigrant Party

Katrin Benhold, New York Times, September 11, 2013

Norway’s incoming conservative prime minister, Erna Solberg, on Tuesday prepared for tricky coalition talks with an anti-immigrant party jockeying to enter government for the first time.

The fact that the anti-immigrant Progress Party appears to hold the key to securing a majority in Parliament has caused unease in Norway because Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right militant who massacred 77 people in 2011, was once among the party’s members.

“We will ensure a solid footprint in a new government,” the party’s leader, Siv Jensen, vowed Tuesday. After campaigning on a platform promising curbs on immigration and more leeway to tap into Norway’s oil wealth, Ms. Jensen is expected to lobby for the post of finance minister.


Ms. Solberg, 52, a former Girl Scout leader nicknamed Iron Erna, will be Norway’s first conservative prime minister since 1990 and its second female leader. {snip}

“We will give this country a new government,” Ms. Solberg said late on Monday night after Mr. Stoltenberg conceded defeat. She has said that she is prepared to form a coalition with the Progress Party, which has recently tried to tone down its anti-immigrant oratory. But persuading two other smaller center-right parties to join such a coalition might be difficult.


The Conservative, Progress and two small center-right parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, ended up with 96 seats in Parliament, 11 more than needed for a majority. Mr. Stoltenberg and his Green and Socialist allies won 72 seats.


In Stavanger, Norway’s oil capital, Kjell Gamlen, 54, said he voted for the Progress Party because “we need something altogether new in Norwegian politics.”


As some feared a harder line on immigration in a future coalition, some political observers said any impact of the Progress Party as a junior partner in a governing coalition would probably be minor.

“The Progress Party cannot be compared to the Front National in France or the Danish People’s Party or German neo-Nazi groups,” said Frank Aarebrot, a professor of comparative politics at the University of Bergen and a prominent political commentator. “Its libertarian streak is as strong as its anti-immigrant streak. The current leader is much more concerned with privatizing hospitals and schools than with immigration.”