politics

Government Crisis Brews in Norway Over Mudslinging on Terrorism

Erna Solberg

Photographer: Fredrik Bjerknes/Bloomberg

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg could face a tough choice: jettison her embattled justice minister or put her whole Cabinet to a vote.

The minority three-party government hangs in the balance after Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug incensed the opposition by saying on Facebook that the opposition Labor Party cares more about the rights of terrorists than national security.

Read more on Norway’s recent election

While she has since apologized and erased the March 9 post after almost a week, the minister now faces a no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday. The Christian Democrats have scheduled a meeting on Monday to decide on whether they will join the center-left opposition and provide a majority for her ouster.

“This is a very demanding and serious matter, which we will have to discuss thoroughly before we decide,” Knut Arild Hareide, the head of the Christian Democrats, said in a statement on Friday.

Listhaug, who has stirred up controversy before, has a power-base within the anti-immigration wing of her Progress Party, which is led by Finance Minister Siv Jensen. The 40-year-old Listhaug has in the past called the political correctness on immigration a “tyranny of good” and has posted a picture on Facebook of an immigrant being expelled from Norway encouraging followers to “like and share!”

She has also crossed swords personally with Hareide, who now could hold her fate in his hands. In a debate about religious extremism last year, she said he and other politicians are guilty of “licking Imams up the back.”

Solberg has already apologized for Listhaug’s March 9 comment on behalf of the government. But it could be until Tuesday until it’s revealed how the premier will deal with a no-confidence vote. “The question on how the government will handle a no-confidence vote will only be answered in parliament,” Solberg told news agency NTB.

The no-confidence motion was brought by one of parliament’s smallest parties, the Red party, and was then backed by Labor, whose youth camp was targeted by Anders Behring Breivik in the 2011 terrorist attack.

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