Progress Party in turmoil

THE RIGHT-WING populist and anti-immigrant Progress Party (FrP) is tearing itself apart with internal warfare. The row stems from disagreements between the party's national leadership and its Oslo branch over who should appear second on the party's Oslo list for the next general election.

The second place is considered "safe" and the selected candidate would almost certainly become an MR The party organisation in Oslo nominated its local leader, Dag Danielsen, to fill the spot but the FrP leadership favoured Siv Jensen, who has a better public profile. The FrP's charismatic leader, Carl I Hagen, who heads the Oslo list, is not a man to cross and it soon became apparent that Danielsen risked being expelled from the FrP if he persisted.

Danielsen quickly backed down but not before, tempers had risen and Danielsen's allies had started bandying about accusations of "dictatorship" and "undemocratic methods". An irate Hagen responded by calling his opponents a "cancer within the party" on national television, and charging them with disloyalty and political passivity.

The mud-slinging continued until nine members of the party's Oslo executive were variously expelled or suspended from the FrP. Incredibly, the nine turned to the courts to have their expulsions rescinded. Needless to say this blew the whole case open to the tabloids who were dying for juicy details.

The court decided not to order the Oslo executive members' reinstatement, but they have appealed and their case is expected to be heard in February. The latest news to leak out, however, is that that six of the nine have decided to throw in the towel but the others will go ahead with the appeal.

The FrP has already seen its popularity nosedive in the polls because of the internal dispute and the prospect of more very public washing of dirty linen is only likely to accelerate this process.


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