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1ST LEAD Norwegian justice minister's FB post triggers confidence vote By Lennart Simonsson, dpa

Europe
19.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Stockholm (dpa) - Norway‘s centre-right minority government is hanging in the balance ahead of a looming confidence vote on Tuesday, called by the opposition in the wake of a controversial Facebook post by the justice minister.

Sylvi Listhaug of the right-wing populist Progress Party has been under fire over the March 9 entry, in which she wrote that the opposition Labour Party was more interested in protecting the rights of terrorists than Norway‘s security.

The post, illustrated with a photo of the al-Shabaab terrorist militia, was made amid her criticism that opposition parties opposed a proposal to strip foreign fighters of their Norwegian citizenship without a court hearing.

A compromise was later reached allowing a fast-track process to handle such requests in court.

The reference to the Labour Party was considered controversial in light of the 2011 attack on a Labour Party youth wing camp, which claimed 69 lives. The assailant was Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

Listhaug - who has often courted controversy - apologized to parliament on Thursday and removed the entry, but critics questioned whether she was sincere.

Parliament censored her the same day, but the crisis did not dissipate as the small leftist Red Party then called for a confidence vote. Other opposition parties, including the Labour Party, supported the move.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg declined to comment on Monday, but noted that the government had apologized last week, news agency NTB reported.

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen and other members of her party met briefly Monday, but Listhaug did not attend.

Jensen said after the meeting that it was up to the prime minister how to proceed. 

"The prime minister decides the government‘s composition and the prime minister will answer questions about the confidence vote in parliament," she said.

The centrist Christian Democrats have the swing vote. Party leaders met Monday to determine their stance, and after a four hour meeting said they did not have confidence in Listhaug as justice minister.

"They urged Erna Solberg to act so that we can avert a no confidence vote in parliament tomorrow," party leader Knut Arild Hareide said after the meeting.

He declined to say how the party would vote.

The Norwegian constitution does not have a provision to dissolve the 169-seat legislature between elections, so the parties would have to find a new combination to form a government. Elections are not due until 2021.

 

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