Erna Solberg

Erna Solberg (Norwegian: [ˈæ̀ːʁnɑ ˈsûːlbæʁɡ]; born 24 February 1961) is a Norwegian politician serving as Prime Minister of Norway since 2013 and Leader of the Conservative Party since May 2004.[2] She has been given the nickname "Iron Erna", inspired by Margaret Thatcher's nickname, the "Iron Lady".[3][4][5][6]

Erna Solberg

Erna Solberg (Red carpet) - Global Citizen Festival Hamburg 04.jpg
Erna Solberg in 2017
39th Prime Minister of Norway
Assumed office
16 October 2013
MonarchHarald V
Preceded byJens Stoltenberg
Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
9 May 2004
First DeputyPer-Kristian Foss
Jan Tore Sanner
Second DeputyJan Tore Sanner
Erling Lae
Bent Høie
Tina Bru
Preceded byJan Petersen
Leader of the Opposition
In office
17 October 2005 – 16 October 2013
MonarchHarald V
Prime MinisterJens Stoltenberg
Preceded byJens Stoltenberg
Succeeded byJens Stoltenberg
Minister of Local Government
In office
19 October 2001 – 17 October 2005
Prime MinisterKjell Magne Bondevik
Preceded bySylvia Brustad
Succeeded byÅslaug Haga
Leader of the Conservative Women's Association
In office
7 March 1993 – 29 March 1998
Preceded bySiri Frost Sterri
Succeeded bySonja Sjøli
Member of the Norwegian Parliament
Assumed office
2 October 1989
Personal details
Born (1961-02-24) 24 February 1961 (age 60)
Bergen, Hordaland, Norway
Political partyConservative
Sindre Finnes
(m. 1996)
ResidenceInkognitogata 18
Alma materUniversity of Bergen

Solberg was first elected to the Storting in 1989, and served as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development in Bondevik's Second Cabinet from 2001 to 2005. During her tenure she oversaw the tightening of immigration policy and the preparation of a proposed reform of the administrative divisions of Norway.[7] After the 2005 election, she chaired the Conservative Party parliamentary group until 2013. Solberg has emphasized the social and ideological basis of Conservative policies, though the party also has become visibly more pragmatic.[8]

After winning the September 2013 election, Solberg became the 28th prime minister of Norway and the second woman to hold the position, after Gro Harlem Brundtland.[9] Solberg's Cabinet, often informally called the "Blue-Blue Cabinet", was initially a two-party minority government consisting of the Conservative and Progress parties. The cabinet established a formalized cooperation with the Liberal and Christian Democratic parties in the Storting.[10] The government was reelected in the 2017 election, and was extended to include the Liberal Party in January 2018.[11] This extended minority coalition is informally called the "Blue-Green cabinet". In May 2018, Solberg surpassed Kåre Willoch to become the longest-serving prime minister of Norway from the Conservative Party.[12] The government was further extended in January 2019 to include the Christian Democratic Party, and thereby secured a majority in Parliament.

Early life and education

Solberg was born in Bergen in western Norway and grew up in the affluent Kalfaret neighbourhood. Her father, Asbjørn Solberg (1925–1989), worked as a consultant in the Bergen Sporvei, and her mother, Inger Wenche Torgersen (1926–2016), was an office worker. Solberg has two sisters, one older, one younger.[13]

Solberg had some struggles at school, and at the age of 16 was diagnosed as suffering from dyslexia. She was nevertheless an active and talkative contributor in class.[14] In her final year as a high-school student in 1979, she was elected to the board of the School Student Union of Norway, and in the same year led the national charity event Operasjon Dagsverk, in which students collected money for Jamaica.

In 1986, she graduated with her cand.mag. degree in sociology, political science, statistics and economics from the University of Bergen. In her final year, she led the Students' League of the Conservative Party in Bergen.

Since 1996 she has been married to Sindre Finnes, a businessman and former Conservative Party politician, with whom she has two children.[15][16] The family has lived in both Bergen and Oslo.

Early political career

Erna Solberg during a party congress in May 2009.

Local government

Solberg was a deputy member of Bergen city council in the periods 1979–1983 and 1987–1989, the last period on the executive committee. She chaired local and municipal chapters of the Young Conservatives and the Conservative Party.


She was first elected to the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) from Hordaland in 1989 and has been re-elected five times. She was also the leader of the national Conservative Women's Association, from 1994 to 1998.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development

From 2001 to 2005 Solberg served as the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development under Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. Her alleged tough policies in this department, including a firm stance on asylum policy, earned her the nickname "Jern-Erna" (Norwegian for "Iron Erna") in the media.[17]

Solberg, José Manuel Barroso and Mariano Rajoy at European People's Party Congress in Warsaw in 2009

In fact, numbers show that the Bondevik government, of 2001–2005, actually let in thousands more asylum seekers than the subsequent centre-left Red-Green government, of 2005–2009.[18]

As Minister, Solberg instructed the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration to expel Mulla Krekar, being a danger to national security. Later, terrorism charges were filed against Krekar for a death threat he uttered in 2010 against Erna Solberg.

Party Leader

She served as deputy leader of the Conservative Party from 2002 to 2004 and, in 2004, she became the party leader.

Prime Minister of Norway (2013–present)

Solberg and other Nordic leaders in Washington, D.C., 13 May 2016
Solberg and U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018
Solberg met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of India-Nordic Summit, in Stockholm in April 2018

Solberg became the head of government after winning the general election on 9 September 2013 and was appointed Prime Minister on 16 October 2013. Solberg is Norway's second female Prime Minister after Gro Harlem Brundtland.[19]

The Government was re-elected in 2017, making Solberg the country's first conservative leader to win re-election since the 1980s.[20] The centre-right parties were also able to maintain the majority in the Storting.

Erna Solberg has combined numerous national positions as Minister, Parliamentarian and regional politician with a strong commitment to global solutions for development, growth and conflict resolution.[21]

She also negotiated with the Liberals to join the government in 2018.[22] The Liberals officially joined the Solberg Cabinet on 17 January 2018. After the Christian Democrats alliance conflict that lasted from September to November 2018, they eventually negotiated to join the Solberg Cabinet on the grounds of a minor change in the abortion law, something that caused harsh backlash from the public and critics alike. The Christian Democrats officially joined the Cabinet on 22 January 2019.[23]

COVID-19 pandemic in Norway

One day after her 60th birthday in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway, Solberg breached national health guidelines by going to a restaurant in Geilo with her husband and 13 family members to celebrate her birthday. The guidelines stated that restaurants only can hold 10 people of the same cohort. In March, she apologised for breaching guidelines and that she didn't think of it properly before being questioned by NRK. She further stated that she should have known better.[24] She was fined 20,000 NOK ($2,352) after a police investigation was conducted.[25]

International engagements

As Prime Minister, and former Chair of the Norwegian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, she has championed transatlantic values and security.

In 2018 she assembled a global High Level Panel on sustainable ocean economy and introduced the topic at the G7 Summit. Her Government supports the World Bank's PROBLUE[26] initiative to prevent marine damage.

From 2016 the Prime Minister has co-chaired the UN Secretary General's Advocacy group for the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the goals, she takes a particular interest in access to quality education for all, in particular girls and children in conflict areas. This was also central in her work as MDG Advocate from 2013 to 2016.

In one her many keynote speeches she stated that there is still a need for traditional aid and humanitarian assistance in marginalised and conflict-ridden areas of the world. The SDGs, however, take a holistic view of global development, and integrate economic, social and environmental factors.[27]

Solberg has shown particular interest in gender issues, such as girl's rights and education. Together with Graça Machel she has expressed the hope that in 2030 no factors such as poverty, gender and cultural beliefs will prevent any of today's ambitious young girls from standing confidently on the world stage.[28]

In 2016, she held a lecture at the International Institute for Strategic Studies The Global Goals in Singapore, addressing a road map to a Sustainable, Fair and More Peaceful Futurethe International Institute for Strategic Studies.[29]

Solberg has secured significant financial support for the Global Partnership for Education and hosted the Global Finance Facility for women's and children's health pledging Conference in Oslo in November 2018. Her firm belief is that investment in education will accelerate progress on all other SDG goals.

In April 2017, she held a speech on globalization and development at Peking University in Beijing.[30]

She was awarded the inaugural Global Citizen World Leader Award in 2018 for her international engagement.[31]

In Solberg's speech to the UN General Assembly in 2019 she advocated for Norway's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2021–2022. She upheld that UN needs to be strengthened and that the world needs strong multilateral cooperation and institutions to tackle global challenges such as climate change, cyber security and terrorism.[32]

Other news stories

In 2014 she participated at the Agriculture and Food meeting which was held by Sylvi Listhaug where Minister of Transportation Ketil Solvik-Olsen and Minister of Climate and Environment Tine Sundtoft also were present. Later on, the four took a picture which appeared on the website on 14 March the same year.[33] In April of the same year she criticized European Court over data retention which Telenor Group argued can be used without court proceedings.[34]

In 2017, the Russian Embassy in Oslo had accused Norwegian officials and intelligence of using “false and disconnected anti-Russian rhetoric” and “scaring Norway’s population” about a "mythical Russian threat". In response, Prime Minister Solberg said: “This is an example of Russian propaganda that often comes when there’s a focus on security policy. There is nothing in this that’s new to us.”[35]

Solberg has tried to maintain and improve the China–Norway relations, which have been damaged since Norway decided to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010. In response to his death, caused by organ failure while in government custody on 13 July 2017, Solberg said that "It is with deep grief that I received the news of Liu Xiaobo's passing. Liu Xiaobo was for decades a central voice for human rights and China's further development."[36]

In April 2008, it was revealed that Solberg, as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development in 2004, had rejected a request for asylum in Norway by the Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.[37] While the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration had been prepared to grant Vanunu asylum, it was then decided that the application could not be accepted because Vanunu's application had been made outside the borders of Norway.[38] An unclassified document revealed that Solberg and the government considered that extraditing Vanunu from Israel could be seen as an action against Israel and thus unfitting to the Norwegian government's traditional position as a friend of Israel and as a political player in the Middle East. Solberg rejected this criticism and defended her decision.[39]


National honours


  1. ^ "Erna Solberg" (in Norwegian). Norske biografiske leksikon. 25 February 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  2. ^ "15 women leading the way for girls' education". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  3. ^ Brunsdale, Mitzi M. (2016). Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction: Works and Authors of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden Since 1967. McFarland. Page 274. ISBN 9780786475360.
  4. ^ Thompson, Wayne C. (2015). Nordic, Central, and Southeastern Europe 2015-2016. Rowman & Littlefield. Page 54. ISBN 9781475818833.
  5. ^ Leiren, Terje and Jan Sjåvik (2019). Historical Dictionary of Norway. Rowman & Littlefield. Page 258. ISBN 9781538123126.
  6. ^ Rohde, Achim, and Christina von Braun (2017). National Politics and Sexuality in Transregional Perspective: The Homophobic Argument. Routledge. Page 44. ISBN 9781317090007.
  7. ^ Hellberg, Lars. "Erna Solberg". Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  8. ^ Alstadheim, Kjetil B. (December 22, 2012). "Solberg-og-dal-banen". Dagens Næringsliv (in Norwegian). Oslo. p. 2.
  9. ^ PM 1981, 1986–1989, 1990–1996.
  10. ^ "Avtale mellom Venstre, Kristelig Folkeparti, Fremskrittspartiet og Høyre" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Høyre. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  11. ^ Dagenborg, Joachim. "Norway's Liberals to join Conservative-led government". U.S. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  12. ^ Løland, Leif Rune. "Passerer Willoch – Solberg blir Høyres lengstsittende statsminister". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  13. ^ Johansen, Per Kristian (February 9, 2009). "Erna Solberg varsler tøffere integrering" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  14. ^ Eivind Fondenes and Aslak Eriksrud. "Partifellene, syntes ikke Erna Solberg var blå nok" [Comrades did not Erna Solberg was blue enough] (in Norwegian). TV2. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  15. ^ "After softening, 'Iron Erna' Solberg set to become Norway's PM". Daily News and Analysis. Reuters. September 10, 2013. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009.
  16. ^ "Erna Solberg". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  17. ^ Morken, Johannes (8 May 2009). "Erna Solberg varsler tøffere integrering" [Erna Solberg suggests tougher integration]. Vårt Land (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  18. ^ Svela, Helge O. (September 13, 2009). "Det (var) altså flere asylsøkere som kom til Norge under den forrige Bondevik-regjeringen som Erna var med i, enn det har kommet nå under den rød-grønne regjeringen" [It (was) thus more asylum seekers coming to Norway during the previous Bondevik government that Erna was in, than it has now come under the red-green government]. Bergens Tidende (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  19. ^ "Dette er utfordringene som møter de nye statsrådene" [These are the challenges facing the new ministers]. Aftenposten. October 16, 2013. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  20. ^ "Norway's centre-right coalition is re-elected". The Economist. 14 September 2017.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Erna Solberg og familien brøt smittevernreglene: -Jeg kan bare beklage" (in Norwegian). NRK. 18 March 2021. Retrieved 18 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ "Solberg apologises and will pay 20 000 NOK fine" (in Norwegian). NRK. 9 April 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Skogens rolle i klimasammenheng" [The forest's role in climate change]. March 14, 2014. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  34. ^ "Erna Solbergs datalagring kan bli torpedert" [Erna Solberg: Data storage can be torpedoed]. Bergens Tidende. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  35. ^
  36. ^ "West mourns Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, criticizes Beijing". Reuters. 13 July 2017.
  37. ^ Dennis Ravndal (September 4, 2008). "Erna Solberg hindret Vanunu i å få asyl" [Erna Solberg prevented Vanunu in getting asylum]. VG. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
  38. ^ Stian Eisenträger (September 4, 2008). "Vanunu: - Håper Norge angrer asyl-avslaget" [Vanunu: - Hope Norway regrets asylum refusal]. VG. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
  39. ^ Stian Eisenträger (September 4, 2008). "Vanunu-venner i harnisk" [Vanunu friends outraged]. VG. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2008.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Sylvia Brustad
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development
Succeeded by
Åslaug Haga
Preceded by
Jens Stoltenberg
Prime Minister of Norway
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jan Petersen
Leader of the Conservative Party