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.
- Norway repatriates Isis-linked woman and children from Syria
- How Norway's help for child of Isis mother could topple government
- Populist party quits Norwegian government over jihadi spouse repatriation
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.