One of the most high-profile ministers in Norway’s conservative coalition government, Sylvi Listhaug of the Progress Party, has announced she’s pregnant but says she won’t take more than three or four months off work in connection with it. The often controversial politician who was appointed as the country’s first immigration minister last December is expecting her third child next year.
“We really look forward to this,” Listhaug, age 38, told weekly magazine Se og Hør. She and her husband Espen Espeset, 41, already have two children aged five and eight.
“The children have grown so much,” Listhaug told Se og Hør, “so I look forward to have a baby in the house again.”
She and her husband are entitled to just over a year of paid parental leave but Listhaug suggested she won’t use all of it. “I’ll maybe be home for three to four months, then Espen will take over,” Listhaug said. Next year will be an especially challenging one for all politicians like Listhaug, with the parliamentary election looming in September. She and other members of the Progress and Conservative parties are up for re-election, with political positioning already well underway.
It was just a few months ago that Listhaug said she’d evaluated withdrawing from her career in politics in order to devote more time to her family. Her son reportedly had mentioned at his day care center that his mother spends “massive” amounts of time at work.
She later decided to continue as a member of the government and won the right to represent her home region of Møre og Romsdal in running for a seat in Parliament. Listhaug has also been frequently mentioned as a possible “crown princess” in her party, to eventually take over as its leader after Siv Jensen.
Listhaug, who grew up on a farm in Sunnmøre, served in Oslo’s city government before being named agriculture minister when the Conservatives-led coalition formed its minority state government after the last parliamentary election in 2013. She took over the newly created post of immigration minister following last year’s refugee influx that brought around 31,000 asylum seekers to Norway. She immediately stirred controversy with her proposals for new immigration rules that later were modified in Parliament.
She’s by no means Norway’s first government minister to become pregnant while in office. Helga Pedersen of the Labour Party announced she was pregnant while serving as fisheries minister, while Marit Arnstad of the Center Party became a single mother while serving as Oil & Energy Minister at the end of the 1990s. Former Children’s and Family Minister Grete Berget of the Labour Party also went out on maternity leave in 1994.