The 12-day coalition talks are over and the Conservatives (H) and Progress (FrP) now get down to business.
Outgoing Labour (Ap) Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has just two weeks to go before he presents 2013’s draft national budget proposal before shutting the office door behind him.
Both the Centre-Right Parties have kicked off their government talks. Their first press conference is scheduled for this evening from Buskerud County’s Sundvolden Hotel, eastern Norway. Reports say negotiations are being conducted in a soundproofed room.
The Conservative-Progress Cabinet is a historic decision, with Progress entering government for the first time.
However, both Parties will be a minority government in Parliament following the failure to get other non-socialists the Christian Democrats (KrF) and Liberals (V) aboard the Blue train.
Incoming Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg has however not given up hope, NRK reported.
“They have not found it suitable to join government, even though we have had constructive discussions and agreed on several aspects,” she said.
“We will open for this should the Liberal and Christian Democratic Parties want to be part of the government during a later period,” added Ms Solberg, having made it clear throughout that she wanted a four-Party coalition.
Both the non-government Party leaders Knut Arild Hareide (KrF) and Trine Skei Grande (V) have repeatedly said that it be would unlikely for them to choose to sit in government with Progress.
They did comment that political disagreements with Progress were not the reasons for their decisions, though.
“This is not about the Progress Party. This is an overall assessment about a four-party government,” Mr Hareide expressed, Monday.
He stressed their previous experience as a government Party (under then Christian Democrat Party Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik) means they “know how important it is to have a balance”.
Mr Bondevik served two terms in Office. The first was between 1997 and 2000 in a minority government coalition comprising his Party, Centre (Sp), and the Liberals (V). His second was from 2001 to 2005, being defeated by Labour (Ap) at the general election.
Although only two Parties will be members of the minority government coalition, the Liberals and Christian Democrats have signed a common agreement framework to secure a majority in this four-year parliamentary term.
Some of the main points are:
- An increase in oil revenue spending within the to-be-kept four-percent fiscal rule will be used largely for investments in knowledge, infrastructure and growth-promoting tax cuts. A new government committee is appointed to consider yearly budgets in selected areas, with a clearer distinction between investments and the operations budget.
- Paternity leave is set to 10 weeks. Criteria for exemption from using it include illnesses, if the father is unemployed during the mother’s maternity leave, if the father works abroad, and if the father is self-employed or the sole shareholder and the mother works.
- Petroleum exploration in, or an impact assessment regarding the areas around Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja will not be pursued in the 2013 to 2017 period. Oil spill emergency response bases will be located in Lofoten and Vesterålen
- A separate development company to carry out more road projects will be established. The focus on road developments and traffic will increase and road toll percentages in new projects reduced.
- It is intended asylum seeker families with children from countries with which Norway has a return agreement will be given amnesty.
At the same time, this gives the government loopholes. Parents have to have been active in confirming their identity, and the application for asylum must have been lodged before the return agreement took effect.
“It’s not a general amnesty for everyone without exception,” said Progress Party leader Siv Jensen.
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