Conservatives turn farther right

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Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre) wrapped up its annual national meeting on Sunday with a new leadership line-up and a string of new resolutions. Political analysts claimed the Conservatives are moving closer towards the Progress Party, the country’s most conservative.

Conservatives' leader Erna Solberg flanked by 1st deputy leader Jan Tore Sanner on her right, and new 2nd deputy leader Bent Høie on her left. PHOTO: Høyre

Høyre leader Erna Solberg rejected the claims, but election researcher Anders Todal Jenssen was undeterred. “The two parties (Conservatives and Progress) are nearing each other’s platforms,” he told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. “They’re doing the same thing that the (current coalition government) parties did in 2005. The party leaders are saying nice things about each other.”

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, meanwhile, said she was glad to hear what came out of the Conservatives’ annual gathering. Together, her party and the Conservatives now hold around 47 percent of the vote in Norway, according to a recent NRK public opinion poll.

“I have reflected over many of the issues the Conservatives are profiling these days, and they’re more Progress Party politics than Conservative politics,” claimed Jensen. She added that some of the resolutions showed the Conservatives “more in agreement with the Progress Party than among themselves.”

Among the resolutions agreed during the weekend were a controversial measure to remove a 10-week quota for fathers in the state parental leave provisions. Høyre politicians also voted to eliminate inheritance tax and fortune tax, to support more oil exploration off Norway’s coast including the controversial areas off Lofoten and Vesterålen, and to give local governments more power and protect them from being overruled by the state.

Høyre also claimed it’s “critical” of an EU directive on storing data about individuals, wants to toughen up immigration policies and give more support to small business and entrepreneurs.

Most of this is in line with Progress Party politics, and election researcher Jenssen said that an election giving Høyre and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) a majority would likely result in a Høyre-Frp government.

Høyre, meanwhile, voted in Bent Høie as the party’s new second deputy leader. Høie, a member of Parliament for Høyre and head of the Parliament’s health and social welfare committee, is openly gay and takes over for Erling Lae, who also is gay and was recently named county administrator (fylkesmann) for Vestfold.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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