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Daniel Johnson: Your party, the Progress Party, has sometimes been accused, on the left and in parts of the media, of being far-right, comparable to Le Pen - what is your answer to that?

Siv Jensen: First of all, it's important for me to clarify what we stand for. We are a classical liberal party, and are very much in favour of market mechanisms. We seek to improve the competitiveness of Norway, which is actually getting worse and worse. And when it comes to what is, I guess, the most critical issue, immigration, I believe that we stand for the exact same views as those held by the Liberal Party of Denmark, which is in government. We also share the views of [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy and, I believe, some of those prevalent among the Tories today. So we are very mainstream, I would say, for Europe these days. We need to do something about immigration, because if we don't, as a very small country on the outskirts of Europe, we will end up with all kinds of problems.

DJ: What is your party's policy on immigration?

SJ: We have had very, very poor integration in Norway over the past 30 years, and that has resulted in some very critical things. First of all, you see women now, even with Norwegian citizenship, who don't know anything about their rights in a free modern country. They are kept locked away, they don't know any Norwegian, they are totally incapable of taking part in their children's upbringing. I think it's very strange, because one of the good things about living in the Western world is that as a woman you have total freedom. And their rights are in practice non-existent, because we let them bring the bad sides of their culture. I believe that that is what they originally fled from, so I really don't understand that.

You see young girls being put through forced circumcision, which is not acceptable. There are also a substantial number of forced marriages, and the authorities just let it happen. So I think this is the critical test, not only for Norway but for all of us, when we fight for human rights in other parts of the world and fight for women's rights. But it's not really something that we take seriously enough. I mean, when women parade in Oslo on 8 March (International Women's Day), they have old feminist slogans. This is silly really because Norway is a country of equality. What they should be more focused on are the women in third-world countries, in Afghanistan for instance, where they are so oppressed. It's ridiculous that we can let this happen.

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erik
January 23rd, 2009
2:01 PM
Dear Ms. Jensen, Most of what you're saying in this interview sounds like a good plan! I'm from Armenia, been in Norway 2 times, have many friends & joined your facebook supporters because my friend Marius think's you should be the next PM. But I shudl say that I'm somewhat disappointed with your visit to Israel, as unlike any objective politician you have only visited one side of the conflict and advocate for Israelis right to security, but the picture is a lot more complicated as is the response of Istrael to random homemade rockets that do not do much harm as did the Israeli invasion. As a influential politician and PM hopeful of such a credible and peace-maker state like Norway, you should somewhat comply to the longstanding rules of the Norwegian mediation school, be as objective and as inclusive as possible and show maximum of neutrality and impartiality. I do hope that you will yet regain the objectivity int hemidle eastern affairs and upon taking the position of the PM increase Norway's peacemaking capacity in the Middle East, continue investing into the Peace Process and into the capacity-building in Palestine! Wish you & your colleagues best of luck in the coming elections and hope that you will bring the need change in the political structure of Norway, while continuing to increase norwegian foreign aid and norwegian peace-making policies and capacities worldwide! Regards, Erik

Geir Windsland
January 23rd, 2009
1:01 PM
Ole P's comments just goes to show what methods the people opposed to FrP are resorting to when they can't beat them on politics and they have run out of arguments. Dirty tricks and disinformation unfortunately keep myths about FrP alive, so in a way I am sad to say that it works. 'long history of racial slur, bigotry, violence and sexual abuse'? Nothing but unfounded lies, and it just goes to show how pathetic the radicals are. Terje Søviknes is the only representative I have heard of being involved in anything dubious, having had sex with a drunk 16-year old girl from the FrP Youth Party in 2001. True, nothing to be proud of, but our current prime minister (Labour) crashed into another car, got out of his own and pretended he wrote his phone number on a blank piece of paper and fled the scene. Our former prime minister of many years, Gro Harlem Brundtland, cheated on tax worth millions and also abused the Norwegian NHS while she was a resident of France. She evaded the bill for an expensive hip operation, and also jumped the waiting lists - something which could be done because of her contact network. I can also mention Terje Røed-Larsen, Åslaug Haga, Manuela Ramina Osmundsen, Jan P. Syse, Thorbjørn Berntsen, Per Ditlev-Simonsen, Per Borten, Victor Norman, Tore Tønne, Astrid Gjertsen and Einfrid Halvorsen. List goes on, but what is interesting is that AP (Labour) are overrepresented. It is also interesting to note that you slam FrP's voters as narrow-minded and prejudiced. You don't think that is a prejudiced statement? FrP aren't more populist than any other party. Defending Israel's right to exist don't get the crowds going in Norway, quite the contrary. Suggesting that not all of Norway's 500.000 people on benefits qualify for it is not very strategic as all of them can vote. Asking 400.000 immigrants to try to integrate and at least speak our language isn't going to get their votes either. Kristin Halvorsen's (Socialist Party) "If you make me minister I promise kindergarten for all kids - I will resign otherwise". Needless to say, she has not resigned, saying that "at least I tried, and I think that is good enough". What is that for populism? Apart from that, if populism means representing the voice of the majority of people, I would call it a synonym for democracy and therefore a rather good thing. And Knut from Tromsø: FrP don't want to increase public spending by much as they will reclaim money which they want to spend on neglected roads, hospitals and schools by reducing the abuse of the welfare system, reducing the ineffective and overly large bureaucracy (900.000, ca 40% of the work-force work for government/public services). Building safer and more effective roads will cost money, but will also return money as there will be fewer roadkills, less congestion (money saved) and pollution. And do you honestly believe that FrP don't have to present a budget in parliament that has to match up? The government run SSB have even praised it.

Olav Trygvasson
January 23rd, 2009
11:01 AM
Calyx what you write is untrue. FRP will end up in government one day as they continue to grow as people become fed up with the apologetic, nanny state presented by the left. If you think FRP 'spreads hate' then you ought to check your reading comprehension.

Calyx
January 23rd, 2009
10:01 AM
Interesting to see this sort of wishful thinking from a journalist with a heavy ideological bias. FrP does not have much of a chance of ending up in government because a majority of the population resents them, and they have very little in common with other parties. We already have a normal liberal party, and normal conservatives who do not spread hate.

Knut, Tromsø
January 23rd, 2009
9:01 AM
FrP is not a consisently liberal party. They always propose to increase public spending. At the same time, they advocate tax cuts. A honest liberal party would propose tax cuts, but inform the electorate that this implies reductions in public spending.

Eirik
January 23rd, 2009
8:01 AM
It is not "widely assumed" at all that FRP will seize power after the 2009 election. Every day, the media is speculating whether FRP will support that party or this party. Yes, FRP is a big wildcard in Norwegian politics, but don't ever tell med that anything about the party is "widely assumed"!

Geir Windsland
January 23rd, 2009
8:01 AM
MrKay: What you are saying here is nothing but a big fat lie. Even when FrP had more than 30% of the voters, Venstre and KrF (a miniscule 5% of voters each) refused to even talk to FrP about forming a coalition that together with Høyre at the time would amass nothing short of 55% of all votes. FrP have a number of times initiated talks! The arrogance - particularly from Venstre's nonentity Sponheim - is beyond belief. These micro-parties seriously think that it is entirely fair and square that a coalition which consists of them and Høyre (these three parties added together is a mere 28%) would represent the Norwegians' voices and their wishes. So much for democracy. Høyre have been reluctant to say anything at all - as usual - but have lately more or less unfortunately also taken the same route. However silly that also might be, it is easier for me personally to accept Høyre's decision as they have ca. 17% of voters, and therefore actually have some leverage to speak of. This long-lasting arrogance and bullying has obviously prompted FrP's Per Sandberg to finally reciprocate by saying: "If that is how you want it, then we might consider saddling up with AP (Labour) instead". Sure, the prospect of an AP and FrP intercourse is not very realistic, but the Mickey Mouse parties will definitely get the message loud and clear. That is what Sandberg's statement was about, and it was an elegant and diplomatic way of saying: Who the he** do you think you are? FrP can put a stop to their aspirations just like that. An annoying Chihuahua constantly barking and biting an elephant's leg will eventually get stamped. KrF and Venstre want FrP's support when it suits them, but give nothing in return. They are like the well-known 'friend' who expects a free ride in your car to work every morning, but isn't bothered to talk to you in the canteen. The political climate in Norway today, and the immense hostility towards FrP, means that even if the party represented 49.9% of the voters, the other parties would not grant them power to rule alone. It's taking a mickey of out of democracy, and it's not worthy a nation of Norway's stature and reputation.

Rob Black
January 23rd, 2009
5:01 AM
With America nearly bankrupted by Bush & co (you never go to war on credit!) whilst its being bankrolled by communist China (who could imagine that?) you'd think Siv Jensen and co would seek inspiration from much more mundane elements of Western political experience than one Sarah Palin and Tharcherism (which was probably suitable in its time). What a disappointment! Her blind support for Israel, where she sees no problem with illegal settlements and the collective punishment (a criminal act under any modern warfare law) on Palastinian population is as bad as that of left-wingers who see Palastinians as innocents.

Ole P.
January 22nd, 2009
6:01 PM
It should also be noted that Frp representatives have a long history of racial slur, bigotry, violence and sexual abuse, and that this goes to show that the party does attract an unhealthy number of rather narrow-minded and prejudiced people. Also, if the party had been able to actually stick to their liberal core rather than turn to populism and demagoguery at every possibility, they would be accepted as reliable political opponents and taken seriously by the other parties. As it is, it's impossible to know what direction they will take next, and that's what makes them a pariah caste in Norwegian politics today.

Baard
January 22nd, 2009
5:01 PM
Not so fast, Humber. Though there were personal relations between the founder of the Progress Party and elements within the apartheid regime, it has by no means been proved that ALP (later Progress Party/FrP) received financial aid from such sponsors. And why on earth do you imply this has been ongoing support by writing that such alleged support was "at its strongest around 30 years ago", when even the abovementioned allegations are specifically limited in time towards the initial founding of the party? And what relevance do such allegations carry today? What about the Labour party, and their communist roots, or Labour's unwillingness to effectively resist the German invaders during WW2. These are actual facts, contrary to the apartheid accusations. But how relevant is this information today? Also interesting to observe Hakon trying to discredit Mr. Bawer. As a fellow Norwegian of Hakon, I see Bawer as a man with unique insight to Norwegian society, certainly armed with a sharp pen far less politically correct than many Norwegians would prefer. His observations on Norwegian society through other writings are also certain to be a painful read for leftists up North, still no less true. On a final note, on the hysteria politicians are instigating towards the Progress Party: I recall when the current PM Stoltenberg (Labour) a few years back warned voters that if the Progress Party came in position Norway would be isolated internationally due to the party's "extreme" policies.. At the time this was said, there were republicans in charge in the US, Denmark was soon ruled by an equally "extreme" fraction, etc. The only thing Stoltenberg managed to do was to isolate himself (and Norway) from the White House through his socialist experiments in our foreign policy. And this continues to this very date, with Norway's solo embrace of Hamas.

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