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Anniken Hauglie is Norway’s new Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
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Anniken Hauglie is Norway’s new Minister of Labour and Social Affairs

| Text and photo: Björn Lindahl

Prime Minister Erna Solberg changed party colours at one of the most important ministries when Norway got a new Minister of Labour and Social Affairs - Anniken Hauglie from the Conservative Party.

The government reshuffle is the first since Norway’s Conservative Party and the Progress Party came to power just over two years ago. Three ministers had to go while four new people got ministerial posts. 

“We have wanted for a long time to take charge of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which is particularly important in a time of rising unemployment. The Minister of Labour and the Minister of Trade will work together to fight unemployment,” said Erna Solberg as she introduced the new government ministers.

15,000 oil industry jobs have disappeared since the right-wing government came to power, and a further 30,000 will go in the near future, according to Statistics Norway.

Anniken Hauglie has a lot of political experience, but mostly from the Oslo city council where she served as Commissioner for social services and later Commissioner for knowledge and education. But she has also been a political advisor in the now defunct Ministry of Social Affairs, before in was integrated into the Ministry of Labour. 

Immigration and integration under one minister

The other major change is Sylvi Listhaug, who was Minister of Agriculture and who now has been given responsibility for both immigration and integration politics. She comes from the Progress Party and has been in many confrontations with farmers. She will now be one of two ministers at the Ministry of Justice. 

Anders Anundsen, the government minister who has come in for the harshest criticism from the opposition and the government’s two supporting parties, will stay on as Minister of Justice. He has made it a priority to repatriate children without parents who have been applying for asylum, despite a deal with the two supporting parties, the Liberals and and the Christian Democrats, to allow more asylum children to stay. Anundsen will still be responsible for the police, the courts and public security.

During the 2015 local elections the Progress Party leader Siv Jensen encouraged municipalities to say no to accepting more refugees. Since that time the number of refugees arriving in Norway has risen sharply and 14,000 refugees must now be housed. 

“Will you advise the new Minister of Immigration and Integration to say the same thing to municipalities today? That they should refuse to accept more refugees?,” the state broadcaster NRK asked Siv Jensen after the press conference announcing the government reshuffle. 

“What I wanted to highlight during the election was that this is a municipal issue. Municipalities themselves should make the decision as to what they want to do, together with state support for integration, answered Siv Jensen. 

The Progress Party’s deputy leader, Per Sandberg, is the new Minister of Fisheries. He has been known for putting his own party’s programme first rather than following the joint decisions of the coalition government. As a result he has spoken out against decisions made by the government. 

“I have full confidence that Per Sandberg understands the different role he now has as a member of the government,” said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Norway’s new government ministers

Prime Minister Erna Solberg emerges from the royal palace with her new team after their first meeting with the King:

From left:

Jon Georg Dale (PP)

Minister of Agriculture and Food

Linda Cathrine Hofstad Helleland (C)

Minister of Culture

Sylvi Listhaug (PP)

Minister of Immigration and Integration

Erna Solberg (C)

Prime Minister

Vidar Helgesen (C)

Minister of Climate and Environment

Elisabeth Aspaker (C)

Minister of EEA and EU Affairs. Continues as Minister for Nordic Cooperation

Per Sandberg (PP)

Minister of Fisheries

Anniken Hauglie (C)

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs

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