Knut Arild Hareide, leader of the Christian Democrats party, has effectively halted internal party moves to cancel the party’s support agreement with Norway’s minority conservative government. Hareide has thus ensured that the government will maintain his party’s support in Parliament, at least until municipal elections this autumn.
Hareide told newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday that he understands there is “considerable despair” among his party’s members and county leaders regarding their cooperation with the government. Neither his party nor the government’s other support party, the Liberals, however, want to reevaluate the cooperation they have with the two government parties (the Conservatives and the Progress Party) right now.
The county leaders are upset over how the government, in particular Justice Minister Anders Anundsen of the Progress Party, has deported rejected refugee families despite agreeing that those with children who had spent most of their lives in Norway be given amnesty and be allowed to stay. The so-called asylbarna issue has posed one of the biggest threats to the govenment’s pact with its two support parties.
“I understand that our county leaders are expressing frustration and impatience,” André Skjelstad, immigration policy spokesman for the Liberal Party (Venstre), told Aftenposten. “But we never got the Labour Party (the largest in opposition) to go along with an agreement that would give priority to what’s best for the children.”
The leaders of the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF) and the Liberals thus think their policies of doing what’s best for the children still have the best chances of prevailing if they stick with the government instead of switching sides and giving the opposition a majority in Parliament. That could lead to the current government’s downfall.
Hareide’s refusal to take up discussion of the party’s government support agreement at a board meeting later this week thus helps save the government, at least until the entire party meets later in the year. “It’s natural that this will be up for debate when the party gathers,” Hareide said.
Per Pedersen, leader for the Christian Democrats in Nordland County, in turn appears to have backed down on his calls Monday to withdraw as a support party for the government or at least get Anundsen to resign.. Pedersen told newspaper Dagsavisen on Tuesday that he wouldn’t be submitting a “concrete proposal” to cancel the support agreement after all. Pedersen doesn’t have support for such a proposal from his party leader.
Prime Minister Solberg, meanwhile, defended her justice minister, saying Anundsen has done a “solid job” in modernizing the Norwegian police (who are responsible for carrying out immigration policy). “We are working with major reforms,” Solberg said, admitting, though, that “we have some difficult discussions tied to immigration policy.”