An extraordinary Council of State was held today in Norway following the political crisis that has occurred. The meeting was announced just a few hours before it was held in the Council of State Hall at the Royal Palace in Oslo. His Majesty King Harald was present, along with the entire Norwegian government.
His Majesty the King has now officially, in consultation with his son, approved that Prime Minister Erna Solberg changes the composition of her government. King Harald approved the resignation of Minister of Fisheries, Per Sandberg. His Majesty also approved the appointment of Harald Tom Nesvik as the new Minister of Fisheries. It is common for Crown Prince Haakon to attend such events as well, but he was not present during today’s council of state. Prime Minister Erna Solberg met His Majesty King 15 minutes before the rest of the government arrived to inform the King about Norway’s current political situation.
Minister of Fisheries, Per Sandberg, 58 years old, has asked the King for permission to resign following the revelation that the minister had ignored several safety routines when he and his 28-year-old Iranian girlfriend visited Iran in July. Neither his own ministry nor the Prime Minister’s office was notified of the trip in advance, and Sandberg even brought his work phone, which contained sensitive information, to Iran, contrary to the strong advice by the national police not to do so.
The Minister of Fisheries has also been criticised for attending the celebration of Iran’s Revolution Day under the auspices of the country’s embassy in Norway in his role as a Cabinet Minister without clearing it with the Prime Minister.
On Friday, Norwegian TV-channel, TV2, announced that Sandberg has refused several offers from the Police Security Service (PST) regarding security briefings prior to travelling to high-risk countries such as Russia and China.
The Council of State in Norway is a formal body composed of the most senior government ministers chosen by the Prime Minister, and it functions as the collective decision-making organ constituting the executive branch of the Kingdom of Norway.
With the exception of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who retain their ministerial ranking in their own right, all the other members of the Cabinet concurrently hold the position of “statsråd”, meaning Councillor of State, and that of Chief of the various departments. They are not formally considered ‘ministers’, although they are commonly addressed as such. The Cabinet convenes typically every week, usually on Fridays at 11:00 a.m. at the Royal Palace, Oslo and is presided over by the monarch.
The last time an extraordinary Council of State was held in Norway was in April when The Minister of Justice, Sylvi Listhaug, had to ask the King for permission to resign due to a controversial Facebook post.