|Minister of Finance|
16 October 2013
|Prime Minister||Erna Solberg|
|Preceded by||Sigbjørn Johnsen|
|Leader of the Progress Party|
5 October 2006
|Preceded by||Carl Hagen|
|Member of the Storting for Oslo|
1 June 1969 |
|Political party||Progress Party|
|Alma mater||Oslo Commerce School
Norwegian School of
Siv Jensen (born 1 June 1969) is a Norwegian politician who has been Minister of Finance since 2013 and the leader of the Progress Party since 2006. She represents Oslo as a member of the Storting. Born and raised in Oslo, Jensen studied and graduated as an economist. She was then employed as a sales consultant.
After initially failing to gain a seat in the Storting in the 1993 election, she was elected in the 1997 election as a Member from the Oslo constituency, she was reelected in the 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 general elections. In 2006 she succeeded long-time chairman Carl I. Hagen as leader of the Progress Party.
She was the Progress Party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2009 parliamentary election, which saw record high results for the party, and was also the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2013 parliamentary election. In the latter election the Progress Party secured 29 seats as a part of a centre-right parliamentary majority.
Early life and education
Jensen was born in Oslo to self-employed Tore Jensen (1926–1989), and Monica Kjelsberg (born 1939), owners of a shoe store during her childhood. While she holds that her neighbourhood was a nice place to grow up, her home was the scene of numerous burglaries. Her parents were divorced around 1980, and her father soon moved to Sweden. Her mother was for a short while active in the Ullern Progress Party, until finding out that politics was "not her thing". After completing Marienlyst elementary school in 1985, Jensen attended upper secondary school at Oslo Commerce School in Oslo's affluent Frogner district, graduating in 1988. Afterwards she enrolled in the Norwegian School of Economics, receiving her degree in economics in 1992. In September 2006, a biography on Siv Jensen was released, written by Martine Aurdal, chief editor of the feminist magazine Fett, later chief editor of the left-wing news magazine Ny Tid.
Her political interest was according to herself sparked at her school, Marienlyst skole, where discussions were common in class. These discussions would include two students who were members of the Socialist Youth, one being her socialist-turned best friend. Jensen however soon found herself strongly opposed to their views. She joined the Progress Party around 1988, having partly been introduced to the party through her mother, though she had found her own views to closely fit those of the party herself. Sometime before this, she had also shortly been a member of the Young Conservatives, but left after a mere week after attending a meeting where she didn't feel comfortable.
Member of Parliament
She was elected deputy Member of Parliament for Oslo in the period 1993-1997, and has since 1997 been a regular Member of Parliament. During the early 1990s conflict within the party started by many younger libertarians, Jensen stood firmly by party chairman Carl I. Hagen. In 2001 she said Hagen had been like a father figure for her, and she expressed a great admiration of him. She became first deputy chairman of the Progress Party in 1998, and parliamentary leader of the party in 2005. In 2006, Carl I. Hagen, the prominent chairman of the party since 1978 resigned to become vice president of parliament, and Jensen assumed leadership of the Progress Party temporarily for two years, until finally being elected as regular chairman at the national convention of the party in 2008. While many had been speculating about the viability of the party and its future after a resignation of Carl I. Hagen, a 2004 survey actually showed that Jensen had a better approval rating than Hagen, which was explained by her not being as controversial. Many had also predicted a more moderate course for the party with her being the leader, but she has however stood firmly by the policies of the party.
Since becoming chairman of the party in 2006, the Progress Party even became the largest party in Norway in many opinion polls, led November 2006 opinion polls with a support of 32.9% of respondents, and continued to poll above 25 percent during the following years. With the recent popular support, Jensen has managed to increase the party's appeal to voters and has built bridges to liberal-conservative parties, such as the Conservative Party, the party likely to join the Progress Party in an eventual government.
In May 2009, Jensen held a lecture in the British House of Commons at the invitation of Conservative Party MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Media director Alex Try of the think tank Henry Jackson Society, who was responsible for the arrangement, said that the main background for the invitation was her "engagement in questions about terrorism and challenges attached to the multicultural society." Up to one-hundred MP's, business leaders and key persons in British politics was expected to show up at the arrangement. Jensen said that "we have much to learn from the British, but when it comes to the immigration policy I think Britain has failed completely".
In an interview in 2011, Jensen said her party is a "classical liberal party and also a very democratic party", and that its "basic main focus areas are individual freedom, individual rights, less state and more individual freedom", also that the party is "in favor of more competition instead of less. Because we fight state monopolies because they don't do good for competition, for price levels, for people's ability to choose between different distributors. That's our basic ideology behind the party..".
A big political role model for Jensen is former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and she has in Britain been called a "Norwegian Margaret Thatcher". She therefore holds many Thatcherite policies, such as "there is no alternative to market economy".
During a May Day speech in Drammen in 2009, Jensen stated, after a traditional recurring claim by political opponents that she and the Progress Party is populist, that "if populism is to try to solve the everyday problems of people, then I'm proud to lead a populist party".
Islam and immigration
In February 2009, Jensen held a speech where she warned about what she called sneaking Islamisation (snikislamisering) of Norway. The speech turned out to be highly controversial among the other mainstream parties. She used the immigrant-heavy Malmö, Sweden city district of Rosengård to illustrate failed integration policies. She also claimed that Sharia law had replaced Swedish law and that emergency staff were afraid of driving into certain areas. While Mattias Gardell ridiculed the claims, the debate itself was welcomed by Norwegian Liberal Party MP Abid Raja and left-wing newspaper Klassekampen. The statements were highly controversial in Sweden, and the Progress Party accepted an invitation to a tour around Rosengård by the mayor and police chief of Malmö. Jensen did not join the tour herself, which was instead attended by party colleagues Per Sandberg, Per-Willy Amundsen, Solveig Horne and Mazyar Keshvari.
Further, in March 2009, she stated that the fight against radical Islam "is the most important fight of our time." She said that she, as a classical liberal, would always fight against such ideas and movements as communism and nazism, and that radical Islam "is a dark and scary ideology." She also accused the other parties of being cowardly, ignoring the questions raised by the Progress Party, and claimed that "it is probably an expression of the fact that they don't understand what's happening in society around them. They close their eyes and try to present themselves as tolerant and liberal, when in fact they are deeply intolerant." Both these controversies resulted in large popular gains for the Progress Party in polls.
In response to an incident in early February 2010, where thousands of Muslims demonstrated in Oslo, she changed her claim of a "sneak-Islamisation" of Norway, to instead claim that the debate now was about a full-blown Islamisation. During the demonstration (a response to newspaper Dagbladet publishing a Muhammad cartoon in the context of a news story) Islamist Mohyeldeen Mohammad had notably "warned" of a 9/11 or 7/7 in Norway to applause from the Muslim crowd.
Jensen is a staunch supporter of Israel, and claims to "not [be] afraid to defend Israel's right to defend itself." She visited the Israeli city of Sderot in the summer of 2008, and experienced Hamas bombing first hand, and said that she and others had to "run for the air-raid shelter". She strongly opposed the Norwegian government's decision to recognise Hamas as she holds that "you don't negotiate with terrorists, you just don't."
In January 2009, in light of the Gaza War, she also held an appeal at a demonstration called "Let Israel live" in support of Israel in Oslo. The Progress Party's general Israel-policy, supported by the appearance at the demonstration by Jensen and the fact that Christian Democratic Party leader Dagfinn Høybråten had not joined the demonstration, resulted in many Christian Democratic voters fleeing to the Progress Party. Soon after, the Norwegian Police Security Service went public, fearing that Jensen might be the target of an attack by "some". Jensen herself did however not fear any trouble. While political scientists had speculated that the Progress Party would lose more voters than they would gain by this strong support for Israel, polls rather seemed to show a slight increase in support for the party.
About climate change, Jensen said in December 2008 that "we can see that climate changes are happening, but they have been happening for as long as the world has existed. The question is whether they are man-made or not, or whether they are dangerous or not. Just some 30 years ago, all these scientists said that the world was getting colder, and now they have changed their mind and say that the world is getting warmer. So is that what's happening, or isn't it?" Regardless, she is largely supportive of expanding and researching into renewable energy production. In January 2010 she attacked the IPCC, accusing the report from the panel of being based on fraudulent data. She referred to the erroneous statement of Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035, ice melting predictions by Al Gore and Jonas Gahr Støre, questions of statistical sampling, and emails from climate scientists at the Climatic Research Unit.
Besides three half-sisters, she has one younger brother, businessman Tom Einar, and one younger sister, Nina Jensen, a noted leader for the Norwegian WWF. Her great-grandmother was the early feminist Betzy Kjelsberg. Although she was once engaged, Jensen has never married.
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|Norwegian Minister of Finance