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Politics of Norway

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The functions of the King of Norway are mainly ceremonial, but he has influence as the symbol of national unity. Although the 1814 constitution grants important executive powers to the king, these are almost always exercised by the Council of Ministers[?] in the name of the King (King's Council). The Council of Ministers consists of a prime minister--chosen by the political parties represented in the Storting--and other ministers.

The 165 members of the Storting are elected from 19 fylker (counties) for 4-year terms according to a complicated system of proportional representation. After elections, the Storting divides into two chambers, the Odelsting[?] and the Lagting[?], which meet separately or jointly depending on the legislative issue under consideration.

The special High Court of the Realm[?] hears impeachment cases; the regular courts include the Supreme Court (17 permanent judges and a president), courts of appeal, city and county courts, the labor court, and conciliation councils. Judges attached to regular courts are appointed by the King in council after nomination by the Ministry of Justice.

Each fylke is headed by a governor appointed by the King in council, with one governor exercising authority in both Oslo and the adjacent county of Akershus.

Until the 1981 election, Norway had been governed by majority Labour Party[?] governments since 1935, except for three periods (1963, 1965-71, and 1972-73). The Labor Party lost its majority in the Storting in the 1981 elections. Since that time, minority and coalition governments have been the rule.

From 1981 to 1997, governments alternated between Labor minority governments and Conservative-led governments. Labor leader Gro Harlem Brundtland served as Prime Minister from 1990 until October 1996 when she decided to step out of politics. Labor Party leader Thorbjørn Jagland formed a new Labor government that stayed in office until October 1997. A three-party minority coalition government (Center, Christian Democratic, and Liberal parties) headed by Christian Democrat Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik moved into office when Jagland, after the September 1997 election, declared that his government would step down because the Labor Party failed to win at least 36.9% of the national vote, the percentage Labor had won in the 1993 election. That government fell in March 2000 over the issue of proposed gas-fired power plant, opposed by Bondevik due to their impact on climate change. The Labor Party's Jens Stoltenberg, a Brundtland protégé, took over in a minority Labor government but lost power in the September 2001 election when Labor posted its worse performance since World War I. Bondevik once again became Prime Minister, this time as head of a minority government with the Conservatives and Liberals in a coalition heavily dependent upon the right-populist Progress Party.

Table of contents

Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Norway
conventional short form: Norway
local long form: Kongeriket Norge/Noreg
local short form: Norge/Noreg

Data code: NO

Government type: constitutional monarchy

Capital: Oslo

Administrative divisions: 19 provinces (fylker, singular - fylke); Akershus, Aust-Agder, Buskerud, Finnmark, Hedmark, Hordaland, Møre og Romsdal, Nordland, Nord-Trøndelag, Oppland, Oslo, Østfold, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Sør-Trøndelag, Telemark, Troms, Vest-Agder, Vestfold

Dependent areas:

Bouvet Island, Jan Mayen, Svalbard

Independence: June 7, 1905 Norway declared the union with Sweden dissolved; October 26, 1905 Sweden agreed to the repeal of the union

National holiday:

Constitution Day, May 17 (1814)


17 May 1814, modified in 1884

Legal system:

mixture of customary law, civil law system, and common law traditions; Supreme Court renders advisory opinions to legislature when asked; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
chief of state: King Harald V (since January 17, 1991); Heir Apparent Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, son of the monarch (born July 20, 1973)
head of government: Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (since 19 October 2001)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the monarch with the approval of the Parliament
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; following parliamentary elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch with the approval of the Parliament

Legislative branch: modified unicameral Parliament or Storting ("Great Council") which, for certain purposes, divides itself into two chambers (165 seats; members are elected by popular vote by proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

Governmental organisations: Økokrim

Elections Last held 10 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party - Labour Party 24.3%, Conservative Party 21.2%, Progress Party 14.6%, Socialist Left Party 12.5%, Christian People's Party 12.4%, Center Party 5.6%, Liberal Party 3.9%, Coastal Party 1.7%, other 3.8%; seats by party - Labour Party 43, Conservative Party 38, Progress Party 26, Socialist Left Party 23, Christian People's Party 22, Center Party 10, Liberal Party 2, Coastal Party 1
note: for certain purposes, the Parliament divides itself into two chambers and elects one-fourth of its membership to an upper house or Lagting

Judicial branch Supreme Court or Høyesterett, justices appointed by the monarch

International organization participation AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, ESA, FAO, IADB[?], IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA[?], IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO[?], NAM (guest), NATO, NC, NEA[?], NIB[?], NSG, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNTSO, UPU, WEU (associate), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, Zangger Committee

Flag description See: Flag of Norway

Political parties and leaders

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