By: Paige Sovey
November 30, 2011
Introduction Norway’s official name is “The Kingdom of Norway” and it is located in Northern Europe on the western and northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Norway has a long land border with Sweden to the east, a shorter one with Finland in the northeast and a still shorter border with Russia in the far northeast (Fouberg 2004). Norway has a land area of 125,182 square miles, making it slightly larger than New Mexico. It has a population of about 4,937,000 people; 599,230 of those people live in Norway’s capital and largest city, Oslo. Norway has a GDP of $479 billion dollars and a growth rate of 2.9% (Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs 2011). Norway is rich in natural resources and makes much of its revenue off gasoline and oil. Norway's annual oil revenue amounts to around $40 billion and more than half of its exports come from this area. To counter inflation, spending of oil revenue was restricted (BBC news 2011). Norway can be classified as a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democratic system of government. Norway is democratic because, according to the constitution, the source of political power and legitimacy lies within the people. All Norwegian citizens are allowed to participate in the Storting (Norwegian national assembly), county and municipal councils (Norway Official Site 2011). Norway is parliamentary because the Government, the executive power, cannot govern without the confidence of the Storting, the legislative power. Norway is a constitutional monarchy because the Government gets its authority from the executive power bestowed upon the King. Today, the King has little real political power, but fills an important symbolic role and acts as the head of state (Norway Official Site 2011).
Ideologies Norway has a multi-party system with numerous political parties. This makes it hard for any one party to take the majority of the 169 legislative seats. The leader of all the parliamentary parties right now is the Labour Party, which has 64 (35.4%) of the 169 seats. The Labour Party has a social democratic ideology and its leader, Jens Stoltenberg, is the current prime minister of Norway (Turner 2011). A social democracy can be defined as the belief in a gradual transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means (Fouberg 2004). This means that the dominant political ideology in Norway at this time is both capitalistic and socialist. In a social democratic society, the government wants to eliminate economic class disparities by using legal reforms and economic redistribution. It is easy to tell that this ideology influences policy making in Norway because of their dedication to social welfare programs (Fouberg 2004). This fact is actually one of the things that sets the government of Norway apart from the United States and many other countries. The government promises that every Norwegian, rich or poor, will have access to the social welfare programs and insures that the state will provide all social services, instead of private individuals or agencies (Fouberg 2004). This is much different from the United States where one must qualify for social welfare programs, and social services are individually owned and distributed.
Voting and Public Opinion The dominant political party in Norway at the time is the Labour Party, which has been the largest since 1927. They currently have 64 (35.4%) of the 169 seats in the Storting. Jens Stoltenberg is the leader of the Labour Party and the current prime minister of Norway. The party with the second most seats in the Storting is the Progress Party. This party has 41 seats and received 22.9 percent of the popular vote (Nordsieck 2009). The third most significant party in Norway is the Right Party. They have 30 seats in the Storting and achieved 17.2 percent of the vote in the most recent