The Progress Party (Bokmål: Fremskrittspartiet, Nynorsk: Framstegspartiet, FrP) is a Norwegian conservative liberal political party. It is the second-largest party in Parliament, with 41 seats.
Founded in 1973 largely as an anti-tax movement, the party highly values individual rights and supports the downsizing of bureaucracy and increased market economy, although it also supports an increased use of the uniquely Norwegian Oil Fund to invest in infrastructure. The party in addition seeks a more restrictive immigration policy and tougher integration and law and order measures. Long-time chairman Carl I. Hagen was from 1978 to 2006 the leader and centre of the party, and in many ways personally controlled the ideology and policies of the party. The current leader of the Progress Party is Siv Jensen, who was the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2009 parliamentary election.
In the 1997 parliamentary election, the party for the first time became the second largest political party in Norway, a position it also held following the elections in 2005 and 2009. The other parties in parliament have historically refused any formal governmental cooperation with the Progress Party. However, with the recent rise in support, and its steady position as the second largest party in Norway since 2005, the Conservative Party has considered potential governmental cooperation with the party.
The Progress Party currently regards itself to be a "libertarian people's party", and its ideology to be classical liberalism or conservative liberalism. The party identifies itself in the preamble of its platform as a libertarian party, built on Norwegian and Western traditions and cultural heritage, with a basis in a Christian understanding of life and humanist values. Its main declared goal is a strong reduction in taxes and government intervention. The party is today generally considered to be conservative liberal, but has sometimes been described as populist. While more fundamental libertarianism was earlier a component of its ideology, this has in practice gradually more or less vanished from the party. As of the late 2000s, the party has also been influenced by Thatcherism, particularly with Siv Jensen becoming party leader.
The core issues for the party revolve around immigration, crime, foreign aid, the elderly and social security in regards to health and care for the elderly. The party is regarded as having policies on the right in most of these cases, both fiscally and socially, though in some cases, like care for the elderly, the policy is regarded as being on the left. It has been claimed that the party changed in its first three decades, in turn from an "outsider movement" in the 1970s, to libertarianism in the 1980s, to right-wing populism in the 1990s. From the 2000s, the party has to some extent sought to moderate its profile in order to seek government cooperation with centre-right parties. This has been especially true since the expulsion of certain members around 2001, and further under the lead of Siv Jensen from 2006, when the party has tried to move and position itself more towards liberal conservatism and also seek cooperation with such parties abroad.
From 2005 electoral campaign. A person pointing a handgun towards the viewer, with caption "The perpetrator is of foreign origin!" with the undertitle "(Quote in the press we often read)". The party explained that it wanted to focus on the increasing crime rates among immigrants, which it claimed was a result of failed integration policies.
From the second half of the 1980s the economic and welfare aspects of immigration policy were mainly a focus of Progress Party criticism, including the strains placed by immigration on the welfare state. During the 1990s the party shifted to focus more on cultural and ethnic issues and conflicts, a development which can also be seen in the general public debate, including among its political opponents. In 1993, it was the first party in Norway to use the notion of "integration politics" in its party programme. While the party has made numerous proposals on immigration in parliament, it has rarely received majority support for them. Its proposals has largely been rejected by the remaining political parties, as well as the mass media. Although the party's immigration policies have been compared to those of the Danish People's Party and the Sweden Democrats, leading party members have rather seen its immigration policies to resemble those of the Dutch People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and the Danish Venstre, when those parties were in government.
Generally, the party wants a stricter immigration policy, so that only those who are in need of protection according to the UN Refugee Convention are allowed to stay in Norway. In a speech in the 2007 election campaign, Siv Jensen claimed that the immigration policy was a failure because it let criminals stay in Norway, while throwing out people who worked hard and followed the law. The party claims the immigration and integration policy to be both naïve and snillistisk. In 2009, the party proposed an official goal of reducing accepted asylum seekers by about 90%, from 1,000 to 100 a month, the standards then said to be used in Denmark and Finland, although less than 100 a year was proposed in 2008. In 2008, the party wanted to "avoid illiterates and other poorly resourced groups who we see are not able to adopt in Norway"; which included countries as Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also reject that asylum seekers are allowed stay in Norway on humanitarian grounds or due to health issues, and seeks to substantially limit the number of family reunifications. The party wants to ban the use of hijab in schools, and to deport parents of children wearing the hijab, citing the hijab to be oppressive to women and children. The party has also called for a referendum on the general immigration policy.
A poll conducted by Utrop in August 2009 showed that 10% (14% if the respondents answering "Don't know" are removed) of immigrants in Norway would vote for the Progress Party, only beaten by the Labour Party, when asked. More specifically, this constituted 9% of both African and Eastern European immigrants, 22% of Western European immigrants and 3% of Asian immigrants. Numerous people of immigrant background are also increasingly active in the party, most notably Iranian-Norwegian Deputy Member of Parliament Mazyar Keshvari and Indian-Norwegian youth politician Himanshu Gulati.