Norway: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Another batch of student guest blogs – this group focusing on introducing Europe’s tendency to govern by multi-party coalitions.  Here’s the first in the series, with this student writing on the politics of Norway.


PM Jens Stoltenberg - original picture from Deutsche Welle, available at http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,4686952,00.html

As a country that has weathered the economic crisis remarkably well, Norway’s coalition government has seen very little change over the past seven years, unlike many other European countries.  The currently governing coalition is a Labor-led coalition with Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg (from the Labor Party).   This last coalition was re-elected in September 2009 and Mr. Stoltenberg has been the Prime Minister since 2005.  His success during the financial crisis (which may have had to do with the fact that Norway is the 5th largest oil exporter) has made this Prime Minister and his party rather well-liked in an era of toppling PMs and Presidents everywhere.

The Det Norske Arbeiderparti (DNA) or Norwegian Labor Party leads the current coalition with 35.4% of the vote and 64 seats from the 2009 election.  It seems that this party has actually become more popular since 2005 when they received 32.7% of the vote and held 61 seats.

In order to have a majority, 85 seats are required, so the DNA banded together with the Sosialistisk Venstreparti (SV) or Socialist Left Party and the Senterpartiet (SP) or Center Party.  The Socialist Left Party received 6.2% of the vote in 2009 and 11 seats.  The Center Party also carried 6.2% of the vote and 11 seats.  All together, this brings this social-democratic-centre-left coalition holds a red-green majority of 86 out of 169 seats in the Parliament and 45.1% of the vote. These parties also held a coalition majority in the 2005 elections.  Historically, the appearance of more majority cabinets is a shift away from the minority cabinets commonly found in Scandinavian countries including Norway in the past.

Other members of the Norwegian government.

Overall the Norwegians appear to be relatively happy with this arrangement of parties whose ideologies together include social democracy, justice, peace, environmental awareness and a healthy dose of Euro-skeptic international cooperation.  Upon re-election Prime Minister Stoltenberg admitted that voting for the current government had been the safest option and that his government would focus on stabilizing the economy and creating jobs.

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