What’s next for Norway’s government after break-up of coalition?

A minority administration is set to rule Norway after the Progress Party's decision to leave the coalition government.

What's next for Norway’s government after break-up of coalition?
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg flanked by Progress Party leader Siv Jensen (L) and Trine Skei Grande of the Liberals. File photo: AFP

After six years and two months as part of Prime Minister Erna Solberg's coalition, the right-wing populist party has quit Norway's government, leader Siv Jensen said in a press statement.

“I took Progress into government, I'm now taking Progress out again. I am doing this because it's the only right thing to do. We are simply not seeing enough of our politics implemented to justify further defeats,” Jensen said according to NRK.

The background for the decision is Norway's decision to allow a woman linked with the Islamic State terror group back into the country on humanitarian grounds. The Progress Party said that it supported bringing home the woman’s seriously ill five-year-old son, but not the mother.


In announcing that the Progress Party would no longer be a coalition member, Jensen stressed that the party would continue to back Solberg as prime minister.

“We have no desire to change the prime minister. We believe Solberg is the right person to lead the country, including in the time to come,” she said at a press briefing, NRK writes.

That means Solberg will continue as prime minister in a minority government consisting Solberg’s Conservatives along with the centre-right Liberal party and the Christian Democrats. That was confirmed by the PM at a separate press conference.

However, never before in Norwegian political history has a party has left a coalition which has then continued to govern.

The Progress Party leader, who is also the current minister of finance, also sounded a warning for the remaining coalition parties.

“(We will) be a tougher and clearer party going forward,” Jensen said.

She also said that the Progress Party no longer considers itself feel bound by the Granavolden agreement, the January 2019 deal which provided the platform for the now-defunct four-way coalition.

The remaining parties can decide whether to continue governing based on this platform or thrash out a new one. Solberg said at her press conference that the current agreement will remain the basis for government.

But with the Progress Party no longer bound by the agreement and acting purely on its own programme, it can potentially vote against the government on given issues.

Conversely, whilst there is no formal cooperation agreement with the Progress Party, the minority government will be free to work with any party they want – including the opposition – to pass laws in parliament.

Jensen met with Solberg on Monday morning before a meeting with Progress Party leadership prior to announcing the split from the coalition, NRK writes.

Liberal leader Trine Skei Grande and Christian Democrat leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad arrived at the Prime Minister's office shortly after Siv Jensen left, as did foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and education minister Jan Tore Sanner, the broadcaster writes.

That occurred despite the scheduling of the regular weekly government meeting for later in the day.

Following the 1:30pm Monday announcement, it is likely that the Progress Party will leave government with immediate effect. The party's ministers will probably not remain in their posts for more than a few days, according to NRK.



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Norway summons US embassy top official over spying claims

Norway said Thursday it had summoned the US embassy's top official in Oslo to lodge an official protest following a report that Washington had spied on Norwegian and other European leaders.

Norway summons US embassy top official over spying claims
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg gestures as she speaks at the official NATO outreach event, 'Nato Engages' in central London. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The meeting was held between the Ministry of Defence and the US embassy’s top official. 

“The defence ministry held a meeting with the US embassy in Oslo today where we made it clear that spying on allies is unacceptable and unnecessary,” Norway’s Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said on Twitter.

The ministry said the US charge d’affaires — Richard Riley, according to the embassy’s website — was the person who attended the meeting with a senior Norwegian official.

The US embassy is currently without an ambassador.

A tweet from Norway’s Ministry of Defence. Source Twitter @Forsvarsdep

In an investigative report on Sunday, Danish public broadcaster DR revealed together with several other European media outlets that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on Danish underwater internet cables from 2012 to 2014 to spy on top politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France

The NSA was able to access text messages, telephone calls and internet traffic including searches, chats and messaging services — including those of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, then-foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then-opposition leader Peer Steinbrück, DR said.

READ MORE: Europe demands answers after US-Danish spying claims

 “I’m pleased that the Americans clearly said that they changed their practices in 2014 when it comes to the monitoring of allies, and that they want to cooperate with us and others to chart what happened,” Norwegian news agency NTB quoted Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg as saying.

“We summoned the US embassy in Oslo today to follow up on this,” she added.

 According to NTB, Solberg also held talks on Thursday with her Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen.

“I reiterated that we consider espionage against close friends and allies unacceptable and unnecessary,” she said.

US eavesdropping on European leaders is, however, not new.

In 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed thousands of classified documents exposing the vast US surveillance put in place after the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

Among other things, the documents showed the US government was spying on its own citizens and carrying out widespread tapping worldwide, including of Merkel’s mobile phone.

However, if the Danish-US spying is confirmed, it went on during and after the 2013 Snowden affair.

In 2014, following the Snowden scandal, a secret internal working group at FE began looking into whether the NSA had used a Danish-US spying collaboration — called XKeyscore — to spy on Denmark’s allies, DR said.