The Progress Party would like a referendum in order to let people decide whether they would like to maintain the welfare state or the current immigration level. Deputy leader in the Progress Party, Per Sandberg, says that a referendum would be the most democratic way, and that it has been in the party's program for several years. Both the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party rejects the Progress Party's proposal.
A people's vote in Switzerland recently revealed that a small majority would like to limit immigration from EEA-countries. Sandberg thinks it is important to have this debate in Norway as well. He is convinced that it will be impossible for Norway to maintain today's welfare level if immigration continues to increase at the same rate as it has in the past few years.
However, deputy leader in the Labour Party, Helga Pedersen is not impressed by Sandberg's suggestion. "A referendum in this country is a bad idea. There is a broad agreement between the parties about our immigration politics, also within government. We are actually dependent on immigration in order to keep developing our welfare system," Pedersen says.
She points to Norway's care services as one of the areas where Norway is completely dependent on foreign labour, and rejects that there is a free flow of immigrants coming to Norway today.
"Immigration is regulated, and constantly we have to make sure that our immigration politics are sustainable. But we must also realize that we are dependant on working immigrants in order to keep things running," Pedersen tells NRK.
She points out that we are required to help refugees according to international law, and that the current government has not yet made any changes to the former government's immigration laws.