Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Norway has a new government

In an extraordinary State Council at 10 a.m. today the King formally released Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his centre-left coalition government from their duties. In another extraordinary State Council at noon the King appointed Erna Solberg, the leader of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister. She will lead a minority coalition of her own party and the far right wing Progress Party, making her one of the first Conservative party leaders in Europe to welcome a right wing populist party into the government offices.
The new government has eighteen ministers, down from twenty at the end of the Stoltenberg era, which is explained by the merging of the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs with the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and there, significantly, no longer being a Minister of International Development. The Conservatives have eleven of the posts, leaving seven to the Progress Party.
While Erna Solberg is Prime Minister, the leader of the Progress Party, Siv Jensen, has been appointed Minister of Finance, which promises to be interesting. For the Conservative Party Børge Brende becomes Foreign Minister, Jan Tore Sanner Minister of Local Government and Reform, Vidar Helgesen Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for European affairs (also an interesting choice of priorities), Thorhild Widwey Minister of Culture and Church Affairs (the name Church is, interestingly, retained although the state church has now been abolished), Elisabeth Aspaker Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs (which will now longer be a ministry of its own, but will merge with the Ministry of Commerce), Kristine (Tine) Sundtoft Minister of Climate and Environment, Monica Mæland Minister of Commerce, Bent Høie Minister of Health and Care Services, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide Minister of Defence and Torbjørn Røe Isaksen Minister of Education and Research.
The loudest members of the Progress Party’s right wing have, interestingly, mostly been left out of the cabinet. Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the moderate deputy leader of the party, has been appointed Minister of Transport and Communications, while the other deputy leader, the far from moderate Per Sandberg, claims he has declined a cabinet post as he wants to spend more time with the family. Anders Anundsen becomes Minister of Justice and Public Security, Tord Lien Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Solveig Horne Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Robert Eriksson Minister of Labour and Social Services and Sylvi Listhaug Minister of Agriculture and Food.

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