Listhaug on the way out?

Several parties have moved to support a motion of no confidence against the justice minister

Sylvi Listhaug

Photo: flickr
Minister of Justice Sylvi Listhaug’s job is under threat in the wake of a controversial social-media post.

The Local

Norway’s justice minister Sylvi Listhaug has canceled a visit to Svalbard after several parties moved to support a motion of no confidence against her.

Listhaug, whose Progress Party is a member of a center-right coalition, was angry at Labor’s rejection of a proposal to strip jihadists of their Norwegian citizenship without a court decision.

The post, which contained a photo showing al-Shabab militants, sparked outrage because Labor members were targeted by convicted terrorist Anders Breivik in 2011.

A motion of no confidence forwarded by the far-left Red Party over the issue was scheduled to be voted on in parliament on March 20, news agency NTB reports.
The Center Party confirmed it would vote in favor of the motion of no confidence.

“It is now (Prime Minister) Erna Solberg who has the key. She has a few days to think about this. It would be better for everyone if there wasn’t a vote of no confidence on Tuesday. But we cannot support Sylvi Listhaug as Minister of Justice in light of how this situation has developed,” Center Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum told NRK.

The controversial post remained on Listhaug’s Facebook page for six days before eventually being removed on March 14. The minister said she removed it because she did not have rights to the image of Al-Shabab militants that was used in the graphic.

Hours after Listhaug withdrew her post, Erna Solberg issued an apology: “On behalf of the government … I wish to present my apologies because the rhetoric used by the government hurt people,” Solberg, a conservative, told reporters.

On March 15, Listhaug apologized for the post during a parliamentary session, saying “sorry” eight times in response to questions from Conservative minister for local government Jan Tore Sanner.

“I wish to say ‘sorry’ to those who feel hurt by the communication in this case,” the justice minister said initially from the speaker’s booth at the Stortinget parliament.
“It was never my intention that this should be linked to the gruesome massacre at Utøya,” she added.

After being further pressured to apologize for the content of her post, Listhaug eventually added a further clause to her apology: “Of course, it’s not the case that Labor wants to threaten the nation’s security. All parties in parliament want to fight terror. … My unconditional apology [for the post] also includes an apology for the content,” she said according to NRK’s report.

The Center Party announcement means that they join Labor, the Socialist Left, and Green parties in backing the Red Party motion of no confidence. That means Listhaug’s fate as justice minister rests on the decision of the one remaining non-coalition party, the center-right Christian Democrats. The leadership of that party will resolve its position on March 19, VG reports.

This article originally appeared in the March 23, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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