Norway Government and Politics

Norway’s political system, or form of government, is a collective term for how the Norwegian state is organized and how the state interacts with the rest of society.

Norway is formally a united state based on the principle of power distribution and the principle of parliamentarism. In short, this implies that political power and authority in the Constitution are distributed nationally between the government, the parliament and the courts. Municipalities and county municipalities have authority only to the extent that the Storting has delegated such power to local and regional authorities in their own laws. This is in contrast to federal states, such as the United States and Germany, where the states has a separate authority defined in the constitutional laws of these states, next to the federal authority. In such federal states, the states often have their own constitutional laws and governments.

Norway Country Flag

If you want to summarize Norway’s political system in one sentence: Norway is a parliamentary, democratic and unified state constitutional monarchy.

Representative democracy

Norway is a representative democracy, also called indirect democracy, where the people elect their representatives to the Storting, county councils and municipal councils in general elections every four years. The last parliamentary election took place in 2017, and the next will be held in 2021. The last municipal and county council elections took place in 2019, and the next will be held in 2023 and 2027.

Indirect democracy is in contrast to direct democracy, where the people themselves take part in the decisions, as in referendums or as in Athenian democracy.

The people’s representatives are mainly organized in political parties. In the period from 2017 to 2021, nine parties are represented in the Storting. It is the Labor Party, Progress Party, Right, Christian Democratic Party, the Green Party, Red, The Center Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Left.┬áCheck Countryaah for other countries that start with N.

Election System

Compared to many other countries, the ratio of voters ‘votes to the political parties’ representation in the Storting is almost proportional. This is a result of having ratio choices, where the parties’ mandates reflect the number of votes in elections.

The four percent barrier, the division method and county constituencies, counteract this trend. The barrier limits prevent small parties from obtaining equalization mandates. This can have major consequences.

When the Left reduced its turnover from 5.9 (in 2005) to 3.9 percent in 2009, and thus came below the barrier, they lost eight of their ten parliamentary representatives. At the 2013 election, SV was in danger of losing most of its mandates, but eventually achieved a support just above the barricade – giving the party seven seats.

The electoral system also affects the composition of the government. The usual form of government in Norway is coalition governments, where several parties come together to form a government. Both majority and minority governments are common.

From 2005 to 2013, Norway had a coalition government with a majority in the Storting, consisting of the Labor Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Center Party. Before that, there had been almost 20 years of various minority governments. The 2013 elections also gave the country a coalition government. On this occasion, the Solberg Government was formed, a minority government of the Right and the Progress Party. Following the elections in 2017, this government was seated, and in 2018 expanded with the participation of the Left. In 2018, the Christian People’s Party also joined this government, which then went on to become a majority government.

In countries with majority voting, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, it is more common for fewer parties to be represented in the National Assembly. One-party governments are also more common.

Constitutional democracy

There are restrictions on how and how far the people’s representatives can exercise authority. These limitations are enshrined in the Constitution, and this means that Norway is referred to both as a rule of law and as a constitutional, or liberal, democracy.

The elected officials primarily exercise their authority by making laws that apply to everyone and which cannot be retroactive. The individual’s fundamental rights are also given special protection in the Constitution. Examples of such rights are freedom of expression, voting rights and the right to a fair trial.

The principle of power distribution, of which Norway has a modified version, is also a limitation and clarification of how power should be exercised.

  • The parliament, elected by the people, makes laws and grants money.
  • The government exercises power in accordance with the laws that the Storting makes.
  • The courts, with the Supreme Court as the last instance, judge in each case. They also have a certain control that the legislative and executive power follows the laws they themselves (previously) adopted.

The exercise of political authority is through the administration. The administration must be an investigative and implementing body for the really governing bodies, the Storting and the government.

In practice, the administration is far more than that. It exerts an independent influence, in many respects a greater influence than the political bodies. This is because they prepare the cases that are going up for political consideration in the government and in the Storting, and because in many cases the administration has the authority to supplement laws, passed by the Storting, with supplementary rules in the form of regulations and guidelines. The administration consists of ministries, directorates, agencies and supervisors.


To be able to exercise power, the Norwegian government depends on the fact that the parliamentary majority does not express distrust through a vote of no confidence. That is, people’s sovereignty has had a greater influence at the expense of the principle of power distribution, as originally formulated. We call this parliamentarism, and Norway’s distinct form is called negative parliamentarism in political science literature.

Norway is also a hereditary monarchy, in the sense that the supreme representative of the state is the king, and that the royal power is inherited, rather than chosen by the people. Today, the king has primarily a symbolic function as a ceremonial head and has little real power.

Read more about the principle of power distribution, parliamentarism, the government, the parliament and the judiciary in Norway.

Negotiating economy and political actions

In political science, Norway is also referred to as a corporate system. The corporate pluralism we find in Norway, however, must not be confused with the state corporatism we find in, among other fascist states.

In Norway, interest organizations have entered into a systematic, but often thrilling, collaboration with public authorities. Particularly central negotiations on wages and other working conditions, in which employers and trade unions enter into a tripartite cooperation with the state, are important examples of corporate or bargaining economy. In agriculture, too, where agricultural organizations negotiate with the state on the terms of the industry, is an example of such bargaining economy.

Non-profit organizations can also influence the policy in various other ways. In part through informal channels, in part through ” hearings “, that is, public proposals and reports that are sent to the organizations concerned, and partly through the organizations participating in public committees, boards and councils. Organized interests can also choose to take part in political actions, such as demonstrations and civil disobedience.

The mass media play a political role first and foremost by influencing the political agenda. In recent decades, the mass media has also contributed to a more person-oriented political debate.

Norway Head of Government

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