Politics of Norway

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Template:Politics of Norway Norwegian politics officially have the structure of a constitutional monarchy, giving the King mainly symbolic power while maintaining a stable Western democracy.

Contents

Political structure

Functions of the King of Norway are mainly ceremonial, but he has influence as the symbol of national unity. The King is also head of the Church of Norway, the state church and the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian armed forces. Although the 1814 constitution grants important executive powers to the king, these are almost always exercised by the Council of State.

The reigning monarch is also the Grand Master of the The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.

The Council of State is formally convened by the reigning monarch. The council must have the confidence of the Norwegian legislative body, known as the Storting. In practice, the monarch will ask the leader of a parliamentary block that has a majority in the Storting to form a government. Since World War II, non-Socialist governments have been coalitions, and Labour Party governments have relied on the support of other parties to retain the necessary parliamentary votes.

The 165 members of the Storting are elected from 19 fylker (counties) for 4-year terms according to a 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, courts of appeal, city and county courts, and conciliation councils.

Administrative divisions

Counties

The mainland of Norway is divided into 19 counties (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, and Vestfold.

Each county is headed by a governor (fylkesmann) appointed by the King in council. One governor exercises authority in both Oslo and the adjacent county of Akershus. Each county has a county assembly, led by a mayor, who is distinct from the governor.

The counties are divided into 434 municipalities (kommuner, singular kommune). The municipalities are led by assemblies, which elect a board of aldermen and a mayor. Lately, the functions of the counties and municipalities have been the subject of debates, and changes may take place in the near future.

Dependent areas

Norwegian dependencies include Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, Jan Mayen in the Norwegian Sea, and the Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Svalbard is not considered as a county, and Jan Mayen is also ouside the counties. Svalbard has a special governor (sysselmann) with responsibility over all aspects of civil society on the islands. Among the main duties of his office is to act as a policeforce for the territory. See Government of Svalbard.

Legislative branch

Norway has a modified unicameral Parliament or Storting ("Great Council") with 165 seats; members are elected by popular vote by proportional representation to serve four-year terms. For certain purposes, the Parliament divides itself into two chambers and elects one-fourth of its membership to the Lagting (an upper house), and the remainder to the Odelsting (a house of commons).

Suffrage is obtained by 18 years of age; voting rights are granted in the same year as one's 18th birthday.

Elections

Main article: Elections in Norway

Elections are to be held every 4 years on the second Monday of September. Last held 10 September 2001; next to be held 12 September 2005.

2001 election results

Party                        %      Seats
Labour Party               24.3      43
Conservative Party         21.2      38
Progress Party             14.6      26
Socialist Left Party       12.5      23 
Christian Democratic Party 12.4      22
Center Party                5.6      10
Liberal Party               3.9       2
Coastal Party               1.7       1
Other                       3.8       -

Political parties and leaders

A list of Norwegian political parties and their leaders is included in List of political parties in Norway

Governments 1935-1981

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 Labour Party lost its majority in the Storting in the 1981 elections. Since that time, minority and coalition governments have been the rule.

Governments 1981-2005

Missing image
Regjeringa_bondevik_2.jpg
Kjell Magne Bondevik's second government
The Prime Minister in front.

From 1981 to 1997, governments alternated between Labour minority governments and Conservative-led governments. Labour leader Gro Harlem Brundtland served as Prime Minister from 1990 until October 1996 when she decided to step out of politics. Labour Party leader Thorbjørn Jagland formed a new Labour 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 Labour Party failed to win at least 36.9% of the national vote, the percentage Labour 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 Labour Party's Jens Stoltenberg, a Brundtland protégé, took over in a minority Labour government but lost power in the September 2001 election when Labour posted its worst 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 dependent upon the Progress Party.

Executive branch

Heads of state and government

Head 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.

There are no direct elections to the executive branch, as the monarchy 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.

Norwegian ministries

Judicial branch

The Norwegian legal system is a mixture of customary law, civil law system, and common law traditions; the Supreme Court renders advisory opinions to legislature when asked; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations.

The regular courts include the Supreme Court (Høyesterett) with 17 permanent judges and a president, courts of appeal (court of second instance in most cases), city and county courts (court of first instance in most cases), and conciliation councils (court of first instance in petty cases). Judges attached to the regular courts are appointed by the King in council after nomination by the Ministry of Justice.

The special High Court of the Realm (Riksrett) hears impeachment cases against members of the Government, Parliament, or Supreme Court. The High Court of the Realm consists of the Lagting (one-fourth of the Members of Parliament) with the addition of the permanent members of the Supreme Court.

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).

Constitution

17 May 1814, modified in 1884 and 1905.

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 Committeeda:Norges politik fr:Politique de la Norvège no:Norges politiske system

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