After six years and nearly two months in the Norwegian government, the Progress Party has called it quits after a debacle involving a Pakistani-Norwegian Daesh* widow and her two children.
Earlier, Progress Party leader Siv Jensen called the surprise decision to repatriate the 29-year-old woman because one of her children was reportedly sick, “the last straw” and pledged to present a list of demands for her party's continued support of the government.
Today Monday, Jensen decided to bow out, suggesting that a further stay in the government would not offset the party's losses.
“I took the Progress Party into government, now I take out again. I do it because it's the only right thing to do. We simply don't get enough of our policy to offset further losses. Overall, there is no longer any basis for the Progress Party to stay. Therefore, I have today notified the Prime Minister that there is no basis for presenting a list of requirements either”, Jensen said, as quoted by national broadcaster NRK.
Jensen voiced her pride over her party's accomplishments in government, especially during the part of the reign when the power coalition only consisted of Progress and the Conservatives. Following the inclusion of the Liberals and the Christian Democrats as junior parties, the government's policy became “directionless and grey”, Jensen suggested.
Despite the withdrawal of the Progress Party, Jensen emphasised that she didn't want to see a change of prime minister and said it was “only natural” for Conservative leader Erna Solberg to continue as “the right person”.
In return, Solberg praised the Progress's efforts and joint work and expressed hope for further cooperation despite their departure.
Sylvi Listhaug, former immigration minister and Progress Party heavyweight, echoed Jensen's feelings.
“I wanted us to have a good cooperation and make a stronger impact. Now it has come to an end, replaced by grey and boring politics”, Sylvi Listhaug told the newspaper Dagbladet. She also described the Daesh woman as “the last drop that made the cup run over”. “If there is anything we can do, it will be in opposition. This should be fine. In general, I can say that the frustration has been great within Progress for a long time”, Listhaug added.
Labour leader and opposition figurehead Jonas Gahr Støre, suggested that “complete chaos” reigned in the centre-right “blue bloc”.
“Erna Solberg's government has collapsed after only one year, the civil chaos is complete and this is bad news for the country. More quarrels and unpredictable governance will not solve the problems”, the Labour leader said, predicting a weakened government.
While the opposition rejoiced, the Greens, also part of the left-of-the-centre “red bloc” also weighed in with Green MP Une Bastholm describing Progress as a “stumbling block” and said “good riddance”, describing their departure as “a good day for Norway”.
The Eurosceptic Progress Party supports individual liberties, low taxes and a small government, while pushing for a rigid immigration policy. At 15.3 percent of the vote, theirs is the country's third-largest party and a staple in the “blue bloc”.
The Daesh widow who caused the government rift, arrived this past weekend and was arrested by the Police Security Service (PST). She had been living in the Middle East since 2013.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/"Islamic State") is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other countries.