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Anti-immigrant Norway party lays claim to government role

An anti-immigrant populist party laid claim to a major role in oil-rich Norway’s government for the first time on Tuesday after a centre-right alliance won a landslide general election victory to oust a Labour administration.
The Progress party, which once had among its members Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011 in a gun and bomb attack targeting Labour, came third in Monday’s poll, giving it a kingmaker role in coalition building.
The Conservatives, led by Erna Solberg, who won the most seats cannot form a majority government without Progress and may have to make concessions to the rightists on spending, taxes and immigration without alienating two smaller centrist parties.
“We will ensure a solid footprint in a new government and if we are going to have good solutions, all four parties must have a place, all must be visible,” Progress leader Siv Jensen said.
Progress wants to spend more of Norway’s oil wealth and curb immigration. Although it has toned down its rhetoric to court respectability, some still see it as too radical for government.
With a bumper budget surplus of 12 per cent of gross domestic product thanks to hydrocarbon revenues, the new government has room to increase spending and lower the tax burden.
Solberg, a former girl scout leader who overcame dyslexia, promised to cut taxes, shrink government and improve health care but acknowledged she would have to make policy concessions.
“We will all have to give and take to get a policy stance that has a firm direction and will last over time,” Solberg, 52, said after results showed a landslide victory over Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
“All three (other parties) will be tough negotiators in issues close to their hearts,” she said.
Solberg will become Norway’s second female prime minister after Gro Harlem Brundtland, still considered the “mother of the nation”, and the first Conservative prime minister since 1990. At least the top two cabinet posts – and possibly the top three – are likely to go to women.

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