‘Fine people who give beggars money’

Two local politicians from Norway’s populist Progress Party have called for fines to be issued to people who give money to beggars.

'Fine people who give beggars money'
Photo: Alex Bricov (File)

Sissel Andersen and Steinar Bergstøl Andersen are calling for the southern town of Kristiansand to implement the drastic measure as a matter of urgency, broadcaster NRK reports.

The pair claimed the strategy had already worked in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, and asked the local branch of the party to adopt the measure as official policy.

“Rather than criminalizing beggars, I think we should perform a 180-degreee turn and criminalize people who give them money,” said Bergstøl Andersen in a statement.

“I would consider a fine of 4,500 kroner ($785), like they have in Vilnius, to be satisfactory.”

The pair urged people wishing to help beggars to instead donate money and clothing to specialist organizations.

Earlier this year, two Progress Party politicians from Tromsø in northern Norway sought to ban public begging, citing concerns that their town risked becoming too like the capital Oslo.

“We’re afraid Tromsø’s going to become a mini-Oslo, with floods of beggars, asylum seekers and street prostitutes,” Kristoffer Kanestrøm and Bjørn-Gunnar Jørgensen told newspaper Nordlys.

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Leader of Norwegian populist party to step down

Siv Jensen, the former finance minister and leader of the anti-immigration Progress Party, has announced she is to leave the role and quit parliament.

Leader of Norwegian populist party to step down
Siv Jensen. File photo: AFP

“I have today informed the nomination committee in the Oslo Progress Party that I do not wish to be re-elected to parliament,” she said at a press conference at the Storting parliament.

“As such, I have also notified the party’s election committee that this, naturally, means the party must select a new leader at its national conference in May,” she continued.

Norway is scheduled to hold general elections later this year.

“It has not been easy to take this choice. But I am completely convinced that it is the right choice for both the party and me,” she said.

Jensen has already given her blessing to Sylvi Listhaug, the hardline former immigration and integration, and later justice minister, as her successor. Listhaug is the current deputy leader of the right-wing party.

The outgoing leader also backed Ketil Solvik-Olsen, a former second deputy leader, as the next deputy leader.

“They are to outstanding politicians who dare to be innovative, clear, take on debates and challenge the existing truths,” Jensen said.

The former minister has been a member of parliament since 1997 and took over as Progress Party leader from Carl I. Hagen in 2006.

She was finance minister from 2013 until January 2020, when the Progress Party withdrew from the governing coalition.

Jensen said her party’s recent sluggish poll ratings were not rated to her decision to step back from politics.

“I have, in all my time as party leader, said that it is a job and lifestyle which demands 120 percent, 24 hours a day all year round,” she also said.