Norwegian Justice Minister Sylvi Listhaug resigned on Tuesday, ahead of a no-confidence vote she was likely to lose and which could have prompted the center-right minority government’s collapse.
Listhaug, a member of Norway’s anti-immigration Progress Party, insisted the decision to step down was her own initiative, writing in a statement on Facebook: “I appreciate that Siv [Jensen, Progress Party leader] and the entire party were prepared to set aside our position as a government partner to support me as justice minister. But I cannot allow my departure to result in the Progress Party losing power and influence.”
Listhaug sparked anger earlier this month when she accused Norway’s opposition Labour party of putting the rights of terrorists ahead of national security. The Labour party, alongside the Christian Democrats, had opposed a bill that would have allowed the state to strip the citizenship of Norwegians suspected of terrorism or joining foreign militant groups without judicial review.
Her accusations struck a nerve with the Labour party, whose youth wing was the target of a mass shooting in 2011 when far-right militant Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 people at a summer camp of young center-left political activists.
“A Facebook post, which had nothing to do with July 22 , and which I regretted was posted, has turned Norwegian politics into a kindergarten,” Listhaug wrote on Facebook. “Then I think it’s my responsibility to act adult.”
Listhaug also compared the outcry over her comments to a “witch hunt.”
Listhaug apologized for her comments in parliament last week. But the Christian Democratic party, also currently in opposition, said on Monday it would join five other parties in backing the no-confidence motion against Listhaug, making it likely she would be forced out.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg previously said she would trigger a vote of confidence in the entire government if a majority voted against Listhaug in parliament.