Erna Solberg, born on February 24, 1961, in Bergen, Norway, is a prominent figure in Norwegian politics, known for her resolute leadership and dedication to her nation. With a career spanning several decades, she has made significant contributions to her country and the international community. Her estimated net worth is approximately $5 Million.
In this article, we will explore Erna Solberg's life, career, and her impact on Norwegian politics and beyond.
Erna Solberg's early life was marked by her strong familial ties and a commitment to public service. Her father, Asbjørn Solberg, worked as a consultant in the Bergen Sporvei, while her mother, Inger Wenche Torgersen, served as an office worker. Both of her parents were executives, which likely instilled in her a strong work ethic and leadership qualities.
Erna Solberg faced her share of challenges during her school years, as she was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 16. Despite this, she was a vocal and active participant in her classes. In 1979, during her final year of high school, she was elected to the board of the School Student Union of Norway and led the national charity event, Operasjon Dagsverk, where students collected money for charitable causes.
In 1986, Erna Solberg graduated from the University of Bergen with a Ph.D. mag. degree in sociology, political science, statistics, and economics. Her involvement in politics also began during her university years when she led the Students' League of the Conservative Party in Bergen.
Erna Solberg's political career started at the local level when she served as a deputy member of the Bergen city council during two separate periods in the late 1970s and 1980s. She chaired local and municipal chapters of the Young Conservatives and the Conservative Party, showcasing her early commitment to her party's principles.
In 1989, Solberg was first elected to the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) from Hordaland, a position she would go on to be re-elected to five times. Her leadership extended beyond parliamentary roles as she also served as the leader of the National Conservative Women's Association from 1994 to 1998.
From 2001 to 2005, Erna Solberg served as the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development under Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. During her tenure, she gained the nickname "Jern-Erna" (Iron Erna) in the media, owing to her tough policies, especially regarding asylum issues and immigration policy. It's worth noting that during the Bondevik government's term (2001-2005), more asylum seekers were allowed into Norway than during the subsequent centre-left Red-Green government's term (2005-2009).
As Minister, she also proposed the introduction of Islamic Sharia Councils in Norway, inspired by their existence in the United Kingdom, and expressed her wish to increase immigration to the country. She also instructed the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration to expel Mulla Krekar, citing national security concerns. Subsequently, Krekar faced terrorism charges for a death threat he made against Erna Solberg in 2010.
Erna Solberg served as the deputy leader of the Conservative Party from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, she assumed the role of the party's leader. After losing the 2009 elections, she recognised the need for a different approach. She shifted her rhetoric away from austerity and tax cuts, focusing on reform and efficient management of the welfare state's structures.
In 2013, Erna Solberg led the Conservative Party to victory in the general election, becoming the Prime Minister of Norway. Her government was re-elected in 2017, making her the first conservative leader to win re-election since the 1980s. During her tenure, her government focused on issues like economic diversification, job creation, and infrastructure development. Her approach aimed to reduce the nation's dependence on oil revenues while also maintaining free education and healthcare services.
Erna Solberg was successful in forming various coalition governments during her time as Prime Minister, including the "Blue-Blue Cabinet" and the extended "Blue-Green Cabinet." Her unyielding stance on the migration crisis in 2015 and subsequent policy adjustments earned her the nickname "Iron Erna."
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway, Erna Solberg's government adopted measures to support businesses, streamline procedures for employee layoffs, and provide tax privileges. However, she faced criticism for breaching national health guidelines in March 2021 by celebrating her birthday at a restaurant with more than the permitted number of guests.
Erna Solberg stepped down from her role as Prime Minister on October 14, 2021, following a parliamentary election that led to her government's defeat. She handed over the reins to the Labour Party's Jonas Gahr Støre. Her post-premiership career took her to the board of Global Citizen, a global organisation that mobilises people to fight poverty and promote the United Nations' sustainability goals.
Throughout her political career, Erna Solberg was actively engaged in international affairs. She chaired the Norwegian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and was a strong advocate for transatlantic values and security. She also co-chaired the UN Secretary General's Advocacy Group for the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasising the importance of access to quality education, particularly for girls and children in conflict areas.
Erna Solberg's interest in gender issues, girls' rights, and education was evident in her support for the Global Partnership for Education and her role in hosting the Global Finance Facility for Women's and Children's Health Pledging Conference in Oslo. Her global engagement earned her the Global Citizen World Leader Award in 2018, recognising her commitment to international causes.
In the realm of international diplomacy, she critiqued the unilateral Turkish invasion of Kurdish areas in Syria but dismissed calls to suspend Turkey from NATO. She also advocated for Norway's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022, emphasising the need for strong multilateral cooperation in addressing global challenges.
In May 2021, Erna Solberg criticised the use of espionage by some countries on fellow EU members and leaders, calling it "unacceptable" and highlighting the need for trust among allies.
Erna Solberg has been married to Sindre Finnes, a businessman and former Conservative Party politician, since 1996. The couple has two children, and they have lived in both Bergen and Oslo.
Recent controversy has surrounded Erna Solberg, as her husband Sindre Finnes faced allegations of insider trading during her tenure as Prime Minister. She publicly acknowledged her lack of awareness of his financial activities and declared her impartiality in dealings with companies in which Finnes had stocks. This controversy has garnered significant attention and even led to discussions of potential legal investigations.
Erna Solberg received the Commander of the Order of St. Olav in Norway in 2005 and the King Harald V's Jubilee Medal 1991-2016 in 2016 for her contributions to the country.
Erna Solberg's political journey, characterised by her tough stance on immigration and commitment to economic diversification, made her a significant figure in Norwegian politics. Her leadership as Prime Minister and her involvement in global initiatives demonstrated her dedication to fostering international cooperation and development. While her career has not been without controversy, she remains a prominent and respected figure in Norway and the international community.