The Norwegian Conservative Party didn’t win the election. It doesn’t even have a relative majority—the Labor Party is still hanging on in there. But the sum of nominally conservative representatives is now greater than the sum of nominally socialist representatives, so they’re going to try to scrape together a coalition. Unfortunately, they can’t do so without the support of the brownshirts in the Progress Party, who did very badly in the election—losing a third of their parliament seats—but have petulantly threatened to sabotage any conservative coalition they’re not invited to join.
Said brownshirts are trying very hard to pretend that they’re not really brownshirts, and local and national media are mostly willing to accept that. International media, less so. Some of them have latched onto the fact that Anders Behring Breivik was once a member, which is unfair in the sense that he was never a party official or an elected representative or even a candidate and the Progress Party has never advocated violence. It is, however, spot on in the sense that several prominent members of the Progress Party have repeatedly and unrepentently expressed the same extremist philosophy, and even dabbled in victim blaming. Come election season, Progress Party candidates wring their hands and shed crocodile tears and point to their party program, which carefully wraps the issue in euphemisms about tradition and culture, and call their detractors liars and bullies.
The Conservative Party is now desperately trying to whitewash its brownshirt allies so it can realize its dream of forming the first conservative government in eight years, and the first in 23 years to be led by the Conservative Party. Frankly, it seem a bit too desperate—especially when you consider the fact that it’s in a better position now than the last time it formed a government without the Progress Party.
The Progress Party is effectively trying to blackmail its way into the coalition, and unfortunately, it’s likely to succeed. But I think it’s in for a rude awakening—and given its habitual intransigence, I think the odds are good that the coalition will crumble well before the next election. Fingers crossed.