Yet another public opinion poll shows a solid leap in support for the conservative Progress Party. Buoyed by its restrictive policies to halt the influx of asylum seekers to Norway, the party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) now holds more than 17 percent of the vote.
The new poll, conducted by research firm Norstat for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), shows Frp with 17.3 percent of the vote, up four full points from NRK’s last poll in November, which showed Frp with 13.3 percent.
It was the latest indication that voters are once again embracing the immigration-skeptical Progress Party as the country deals with an influx of asylum seekers in recent months. Almost all the other parties fell, with Frp’s government coalition partner, the Conservatives (Høyre), logging the biggest decline. It fell 1.4 points, to 22.5 percent of the vote.
Together, the Conservatives-Progress Party minority coalition has more support that Labour, although Labour remains Norway’s single largest party with 34.6 percent of the vote, according to NRK’s new poll. That’s nonetheless down from 35.5 percent in November.
All the other much-smaller parties registered minimal changes except the Liberals (Venstre), down 0.8 points to just 3,4 percent, well under the support needed to win representation in Parliament if the poll results had been an election result. The Liberals now have less support than the fledgling Greens Party (MDG), which rose to claim 4 perent of the vote.
The Christian Democrats held 5.4 percent, slightly down from last month, while the Center Party held 5.8 percent, also down slightly from last month’s 6 percent.
Rebounding on refugees
Bernt Aardal, a professor of political science at the University of Oslo, attributed the Progress Party’s rebound solely to the current refugee crisis. The Progress Party (Frp) has always been skeptical towards immigration, and Norwegian public opinion has shifted from an outpouring of sympathy and support for refugees last summer to concerns over controlling the large numbers of refugees arriving in Norway.
“The poll is clearly closely tied to the change in attitudes towards asylum and immigration policies,” Aardal told NRK. The strong emotions expressed after seeing photos of a small dead boy on a beach, along with exhausted new arrivals sleeping on the streets outside an asylum registration office in Oslo, have given way to alarm over the tens of thousands of people now actually seeking asylum in Norway.
Siv Jensen, who saw her party’s popularity dramatically sink last summer, now credits its leadership in forming new immigration policy.
“I know that opinion polls go up and down, but now we’re seeing a trend where all polls lift Frp considerably,” she told NRK. Asked what she thinks is behind the party’s resurgence: “We have put forth a budget with clear Frp policies, not least the increase in basic pension for retirees who live together. And we have led the way for tightening asylum and immigration policies. In that area, Frp has high credibility.”