Laid-up leader vows quick comeback

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Siv Jensen, the high-profile leader of Norway’s opposition Progress Party, sent signals from her hospital bed over the weekend that she may be down but she’s not out. Jensen, who broke her back in two places late last week, was intent on a full recovery as quickly as possible.

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen smiled for her party's photographer from her hospital bed over the weekend. PHOTO: Frp.no

“No one needs to be afraid that I won’t be 100 percent ready” for the fall election campaign, Jensen told her party’s website, Frp.no. “I look forward to get back to work.”

Jensen, who turned 42 on June 1st, had headed for her summer cottage on an island in the Oslo Fjord when Norway’s long Kristi Himmelfarts (Ascension Day) holiday weekend began last week. She had invited some friends with children and they set off in her small open boat with the intention of fishing some cod for dinner.

But when Jensen turned to undo a fishing line that had hung up, she slipped and fell in the boat, according to the account on Frp.no. Her back hit a seat on the boat and she immediately was in great pain.

She was taken to hospital in Oslo, where doctors could confirm two fractures. They were described as “clean breaks,” and Jensen said she’d been told that shouldn’t result in lasting injury.

“After six to eight weeks I’ll be able to exercise as usual again,” she said. “But first I have to take it easy and do certain exercises.” She said she hopes to be back at work “long before” six to eight weeks from now.

Per Sandberg, deputy leader of the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), also tried to put the best possible spin on the accident and injury suffered by Jensen. “After some rest, Siv will be back in fine form,” Sandberg told Frp.no, claiming that the only consequences of her accident will be that she can use the forced resting time “to recharge batteries” and make a strong comeback.

The party needs that, given recent public opinion polls that show Frp losing as many as 30 percent of the voters they could claim at the last municipal elections in 2007. One poll conducted by research firm Sentio for newspaper Tønsbergs Blad showed that even in Tønsberg, where Frp traditionally has been strong, the party had lost 9.8 percentage points in the polls. It could only claim 19.1 percent of the vote, compared to 28.9 percent in 2007.

The decline was nearly as big on Tønsberg’s neighbouring island of Nøtterøy, where poll results showed the party with 15 percent of the vote in May compared to 23.1 percent in 2007.

The election campaign in the Vestfold district where Tønsberg and Nøtterøy re located is due to begin June 17 and Jensen was supposed to play a key role in it. Sandberg told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he still hoped she’d be able to, but that may be up to her doctors.

Former party leader Carl I Hagen was already offering to step in, despite protests from his wife. Jensen was forced to cancel a planned trip to Karasjok in northern Norway this week, along with all other meetings.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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