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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Third time's the charm for Sweden's Euro-skeptic center-right party

Progress Party fiercely opposes Islamization of the populace and culture

by Clifford F. Thies

The center-right parties narrowly won the nationwide popular vote in each of the last two elections in Norway, but lost these elections to the center-left parties due to certain quirks in the voting system in the country. But, in this year's election, to be held September 9th, the center-right is poised for an enormous victory.

Absent a major shift in voting intentions, Siv Jensen, leader of the Progress Party, is slated to be the next prime minister of the country. Trained as an economist (always a plus on this website), Jensen combines principled commitment to free-market policies with popular appeal. She is a strong supporter of Israel and opposes what she had once called "sneaking Islamization" (snikislamisering). Other parties, including some within the center-right, she says are naive about the threat of radical Islam. She says, "They [the other parties] close their eyes and try to present themselves as tolerant and liberal." More recently, Jensen has shifted from speaking of "sneaking Islamization" to speaking of full-blown Islamization.

The main partner of the Progress Party is the Conservative Party, a center-right party, that tends to be more pro-EU (whereas the Progress Party is a moderately Euroskeptic party). The leader of this party, Erna Solberg, who would be slated to become Foreign Minister, gives the center-right a strong female one-two punch.

Two other parties - the Christian Democrats and the Liberals - complete the center-right in Norwegian politics (the Center Party, an agrarian party, having shifted over to the center-left in 2005). But, the growth of the Progress and Conservative Parties has now relegated each of these two parties to minor party status. The Christian Democrats might be described as the religious right of Norway. Emphasizing its religious underpinnings, and specifically its positions on alcohol and pornography, this party has reached out to Muslims, but without any success.

The Liberal Party of Norway is more like the Liberal Democrats of Great Britain than the Liberals of the Netherlands, being more of a centrist party than a market-liberal party. The Liberals deliberately distanced themselves from the center-right in the 2009 election, because of disagreement on Islam with the Progress Party, and failed to make the 4 percent threshold. Its representation in the Norwegian parliament fell from 10 to 2 seats (representing jurisdictions where its candidates finished first), and it had a change of leadership.

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