Government may lose a supporter

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The Christian Democrats party, angry with Justice Minister Anders Anundsen, is threatening to withdraw its support for Norway’s minority conservative government. Party leaders, upset over how Anundsen has handled children of rejected refugees, will discuss formally ending its agreement to support the government when they meet later this week.

Anders Anundsen and his state secretaries have come under fire by the government's two important support parties. One of them, the Christian Democrats, is threatening to withdraw from its support agreement with the minority government. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Anders Anundsen and his state secretaries have come under fire by the government’s two important support parties. One of them, the Christian Democrats, is threatening to withdraw from its support agreement with the minority government. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Several county leaders of the Christian Democrats have told newspaper Aftenposten that their confidence in Anundsen from the Progress Party has worn thin. While party members have been displeased with government action on a variety of issues, it’s Anundsen’s deportation of the children of rejected asylum seekers (called asylbarna) that has upset them the most.

“We must recognize that the government has broken its cooperation agreement and that KrF (Kristelig Folkepartiet) is free (to end its pact with the government),” Per Pedersen, leader of the Christian Democrats (KrF) in Nordland County. “It’s not us who have broken the agreement, it’s the government.” Morten Halling, county leader in Oppland, is calling for Anundsen’s resignation. Failing that, Halling thinks his party should cooperate with the Labour Party, which leads the opposition in Parliament, instead of the government.

‘Scandal’
Aftenposten reported that many of 19 county leaders of the Christian Democrats have expressed discontent with its deal to function as a support party in Parliament for the minority government coalition consisting of the Progress and Conservatives parties. Many county leaders of the government’s other support party, the Liberals (Venstre), are also dissatisfied.

While the Liberals aren’t muttering about any serious lack of confidence i the government, the Christian Democrats are. Aftenposten reported that two county leaders for the Christian Democrats think Anundsen should resign and on Friday, the party’s board will need to consider a proposal that it withdraw support for the government.

Trude Brosvik, county leader for the Christian Democrats in Sogn og Fjordane, called Anundsen’s handling of asylum children “a scandal.” Party members have been furious that Anundsen effectively allowed the deportatin of entire families of rejected refugees even though the children (and their parents) were supposed to be given amnesty.

Blaming the media
Newspaper Bergens Tidende revealed in early December that the amnesty agreement with the government’s support parties hadn’t been forwarded to the police by Anundsen’s justice ministry. In mid-January, Bergens Tidende reported that police put more emphasis on deporting rejected refugee families than refugees and other foreigners in Norway who had committed crimes.

Anundsen seemed to blame the media for the Christian Democrats’ threat of withdrawal. “I don’t really see this criticism as lack of confidence,” Anundsen responded in an email to Aftenposten. “It’s probably a reaction based on the how the media has portrayed a complicated issue.”

Anundsen said it was “important to have the best possible cooperation” with both government support parties, to which he referred as “partners,” and he claimed he was “working hard to succeed with that.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund