Sylvi Listhaug

Sylvi Listhaug
Minister of Migration and Integration
Assumed office
16 December 2015
Prime Minister Erna Solberg
Preceded by Office created
Minister of Agriculture and Food
In office
16 October 2013  16 December 2015
Prime Minister Erna Solberg
Preceded by Trygve Slagsvold Vedum
Succeeded by Jon Georg Dale
Oslo City Commissioner of Welfare and Social Services
In office
18 January 2006  27 September 2011
Preceded by Margaret Eckbo
Succeeded by Anniken Hauglie
Personal details
Born (1977-12-25) 25 December 1977
Ørskog, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
Nationality Norwegian
Political party Progress Party
Spouse(s) Espen Espeset
Children 2
Alma mater Volda University College
Religion Lutheranism

Sylvi Listhaug (born 25 December 1977) is a Norwegian politician for the Progress Party who has been Minister of Migration and Integration since December 2015. She served as Minister of Agriculture and Food from 2013 to 2015, and as Oslo City Commissioner of Welfare and Social Services from 2006 to 2011. She has been a member of the Progress Party central board since 2005.

Early life and education

Listhaug was born and raised on a farm in Ørskog, Møre og Romsdal, to which she has odelsrett.[1] Her father worked with transportation, while her mother ran the family farm. She has two twin siblings.[2]

In 1995 Listhaug began to work as a care assistant at the Ørskog home for the elderly, and from 1996 to 2000 she studied history, social sciences, and special education at the Volda University College, and continued to work at the Ørskog home to support herself during her student years. In 2000 she graduated and qualified as a teacher, and from 2000 to 2001 she worked as a teacher at the Sjøholt school in Ørskog.[3]

Political career

Early career

Listhaug started her political career locally in Ørskog.[4] She has held several positions within the Progress Party and its youth organisation since 1998, and has been a member of the Progress Party central board since 2005.[3] She worked as political advisor and aide to the Progress Party's parliamentary group from 2001 to 2004,[5] and in 2005 had a stay abroad as an intern in the United States House of Representatives.[3] She has served as a deputy representative in the Norwegian parliament from Møre og Romsdal (2001 to 2009), and from Oslo (2009 to 2013), with a total 95 days of parliamentary session served.[6]

Oslo city commissioner

Listhaug was appointed city commissioner (byråd) of welfare and social services in the city government of Oslo in 2006, having been secretary to the previous commissioner Margaret Eckbo. Listhaug spearheaded a number of reforms as commissioner, introducing free choice in home care, and reintroducing senior homes in her first year. She stated as her goals more competition and better nursing homes, and opening for more private companies.[7]

In 2009 she became the subject of a nursing home funding scandal, after it was revealed that a company that had been granted a total amount of 23,5 million NOK from Oslo municipality to build nursing homes for Norwegians in Altea, Spain had not yet even been granted a Spanish construction permit.[8][9]

Other proposals by Listhaug as city commissioner included a stricter policy on psychiatric patients,[10] and putting up posters of convicted rapists in their local community.[11] Before the gay parade in Oslo in 2009, Listhaug suggested to some controversy that "half and almost wholly naked people dancing around in the streets of Oslo" could rather lead to less tolerance of homosexuals, thus working against its goal, although she made clear that homosexuals should be able to party "when and where they want".[12]

Minister of Agriculture and Food

On 16 October 2013 Listhaug was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Food in the new Solberg Cabinet.[3] The Solberg government signalled a drastic change of course in Norwegian agricultural policy by opening for more freely sale and purchase of farms, and seeking a development towards fewer and bigger farms.[5]

As Listhaug in 2010 had called the Norwegian agricultural policy a "communist system" in an op-ed, this received widespread attention in media and social media.[13] After being pressured with the comment in a television debate, she stated her intent on following the new government's policy agreement.[14] Prior comments by Listhaug and the new government's course was met with scepticism and protest among some farmers.[5]

From 2012 until her cabinet appointment, Listhaug had worked as a senior consultant with First House.[3] Shortly after her appointment, media attention centered on her decision to keep secret her list of clients during her time in the job.[5] The list of public clients was made public in early 2014 after Listhaug declared a personal conflict of interest.[15]

Minister of Migration and Integration

On 16 December 2015 Listhaug was appointed Minister of Migration and Integration, a newly formed cabinet position in the wake of the European migrant crisis and record high numbers of asylum seekers in Norway that resulted in a broad parliamentary agreement to tighten asylum regulations.[16][17] The month prior to her appointment Listhaug criticised what she described as a "tyranny of goodness" haunting the Norwegian immigration debate, and that it would be more Christian and reasonable to help as many people as possible through foreign aid to refugees abroad rather than aiding fewer and more costly asylum seekers in Norway.[17][18] She later vowed that her proposed asylum regulations would make Norway's asylum policies "one of the strictest in Europe".[19]

The first four months of 2016 saw asylum applications in Norway drop to its lowest levels since 1993, with only about 250 new applications each month.[20] The reduction resulted in at least NOK 800 million (US$100 million) being saved only in direct asylum reception costs in the revised annual state budget, amid budget strains due to the low oil price.[21]

Opinion polls have consistently shown Listhaug to have the highest approval rating of all government ministers from her party, and several others.[22] In September 2016, a poll showed that 59% of Norway's population approved of her work on immigration, with less than a quarter disapproving.[23]

Political views

Listhaug believes that the elderly should have legal rights to a place in private nursing homes paid by public funding. She has advocated "zero tolerance" on crime, more visible police, and said that integration has to become better by having stricter demands on people who move to Norway, combined with a more restrictive immigration policy.[24]

Although a life-long Christian, Listhaug has considered leaving the Church of Norway, which she has described as "thoroughly socialist",[17] due to the former Red-Green government's interventionist policy on appointment of bishops, as well as church leaders in her view voicing political opinions on too many issues. Favouring a separation of church and state, she has pointed to it "working well" in the United States.[25] Listhaug has said she opposes same-sex marriage,[26] and wants to reverse the law that implemented it in Norway.[25] She has been a repeat guest on the Christian television channel Visjon Norge.[27] A strong supporter of Israel following her study trip to the country during her teacher studies, Listhaug has voiced support for moving the Norwegian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.[25]

According to a jury that named Listhaug Norway's third greatest leadership talent of 2009, her ideology is a mix of a US Midwest Republican and late 19th century Norwegian politician Søren Jaabæk.[28] She has said herself that she is socially conservative and economically liberal.[25]

Personal life

Listhaug is married to fellow Progress Party politician Espen Espeset, and together they have one daughter and one son.[29][30]


  1. "Listhaug har overtatt Landbruksdepartementet". NRK (in Norwegian). 16 October 2013.
  2. Rimehaug, Erling (3 October 2009). "- Tryggheten skal tilbake til Oslo". Vårt Land.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Minister of Agriculture and Food Sylvi Listhaug (Progress Party), Ministry of Agriculture and Food
  4. Thurmann-Nielsen, Anne (3 April 2006). "Gammelt nytt". Dagbladet.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Sylvi Listhaug", Store norske leksikon, 11.11.2013
  6. "Sylvi Listhaug" (in Norwegian). Storting.
  7. "Vil ha flere private sykehjem", Osloby
  8. "Her skulle det stått et sykehjem", Nettavisen, 09.09.09
  9. "- Trist at vi ikke har fått det til", Nettavisen, 09.09.09
  10. Hanssen, Sturla Smári; Letvik, Tore; Bredeveien, Jo Moen (24 March 2009). "Du vet aldri når det klikker for dem". Dagsavisen.
  11. "Vil henge opp plakater av voldtektsforbrytere". Dagbladet. 23 February 2010.
  12. Kvaale, Vegard Kristiansen; Ottosen, Peder (24 June 2009). "Frp vil ikke ha halvnakne homodansere". Dagbladet.
  13. "I 2010 kalte hun norsk landbruk «kommunisme», nå blir hun ny landbruksminister", E24, 16.10.2013
  14. "Listhaug tok avstand fra uttalelser om kommunistisk landbruk", Dagbladet, 17.10.2013
  15. "Listhaugs liste over offentlige kunder er frigitt", NRK, 16.01.2014
  16. "Norway: New Ministry Is Created to Address Influx of Migrants". The New York Times. 16 December 2015.
  17. 1 2 3 Lepperød, Trond (19 December 2015). "Ser ingen motsetning mellom kristen nestekjærlighet og stramme tøyler i asylpolitikken". Nettavisen (in Norwegian).
  18. "Norway populists win new immigration ministry". The Local. 16 December 2015.
  19. "– Vi kommer til å få en asylpolitikk som er blant de strengeste i Europa" (in Norwegian). NRK. 29 December 2015.
  20. "Listhaug varsler flere og tøffere krav til flyktninger [Listhaug announces more and tougher demands on refugees]". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 10 May 2016.
  21. "Kan spare store summer på at asyltallene går ned". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 11 May 2016.
  22. "Listhaug danker ut Jensen i måling". Abc nyheter (in Norwegian). NTB. 24 February 2016.
  23. "Listhaugs popularitet øker" (in Norwegian). NRK. 12 September 2016.
  24. Jenssen, Grethe Kielland (29 June 2009). "- Tryggheten skal tilbake til Oslo". NRK.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Nordgaard, Tor-Bjørn (15 October 2009). "Står opp for kristne verdier". Norge IDAG.
  26. Andersen, Morten Dahle (24 May 2009). "Sylvi Listhaug angrep kjønnsnøytral ekteskapslov". Nordisk nettverk for ekteskapet.
  27. "Listhaug deltar hos omstridt TV-predikant". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). 24 November 2015.
  28. Indseth, Ingrid H. (11 September 2009). "Frp-prinsessen vil bli som Hagen". E24.
  29. "HER FÅR HUN SEIERSKYSSET". Se og Hør. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  30. "Kronprinsessen". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
Political offices
Preceded by
Margaret Eckbo
Oslo City Commissioner of Welfare and Social Services
Succeeded by
Anniken Hauglie
Preceded by
Trygve Slagsvold Vedum
Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food
Succeeded by
Jon Georg Dale
Preceded by
Office created
Norwegian Minister of Migration and Integration
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