Labour Party (Norway)

Labour Party (Norway)
Labour Party
Leader Jens Stoltenberg
Parliamentary leader Helga Pedersen
Slogan "Alle skal med"
("Include everyone")
Founded 1887
Headquarters Youngstorget 2 A, 5th floor Oslo
Youth wing Workers' Youth League
Membership 200,500 (peak, 1950)[1]
47,000 (2011)[2]
Ideology Social democracy,
Democratic socialism[3]
Political position Centre-Left
International affiliation Socialist International *
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
Nordic affiliation SAMAK
Official colours Red
64 / 169
County Councils[4]
273 / 728
Municipal / City Councils[5]
3,373 / 10,781
Sami Parliament
14 / 39
Politics of Norway
Political parties
* Formerly member of Comintern (1919–1923) and Labour and Socialist International (1938–1940).
The party headquarters

The Labour Party (Norwegian: Arbeiderpartiet, A/Ap) is a social-democratic[6] political party in Norway. It is the senior partner in the current Norwegian government as part of the Red-Green Coalition, and its leader, Jens Stoltenberg, is the current Prime Minister of Norway.

The Norwegian Labour Party is officially committed to social-democratic ideals. Its slogan since the 1930s has been "work for everyone", and the party seeks a strong welfare state, funded through taxes and duties.[7] During the last 20 years, the party has included more of the principles of a social market economy in its policy, allowing for privatisation of government-held assets and services and reducing income tax progressivity, following the wave of economic liberalisation in the 1980s. The Labour Party profiles itself as a progressive party that subscribes to cooperation on a national as well as international level. Its youth wing is the Workers' Youth League.

Since its establishment in the late 19th century, the party steadily increased in support until it became the largest party in Norway in 1927 – a position it has held ever since. This year also saw the consolidation of conflicts surrounding the party during the 1920s following its membership of Comintern from 1919 to 1923. From 1945 to 1961, the party had an absolute majority in the Norwegian parliament, during which Norway was casually referred to as a "one party state". Since 1935, there have been only sixteen years in which the party has not held the office of the Prime Minister. The domination by the Labour Party, during the 1960s and early 1970s, was initially broken by competition from the left, primarily from the Socialist People's Party. From the end of the 1970s however, the party started to lose voters to the right, leading to a turn to the right for the party under Gro Harlem Brundtland during the 1980s. In 2001 the party achieved its worst electoral results since 1924, forcing it to commit to a co-operation agreement with other parties in order to form a majority government.[7]



The party was founded in 1887 in Arendal and first ran in elections to the Parliament of Norway in 1894. It entered Parliament in 1904 after the 1903 election, and steadily increased its vote until 1927, when it became the largest party.

From the establishment of Vort Arbeide in 1884, the party had a growing and notable organisation of newspapers and other press outlets. The party press system eventually resulted in A-pressen. In January 1913 the party had 24 newspapers, and 6 more newspapers were founded in the year 1913. The party also had the periodical Det 20de Aarhundre.[8] In 1920 the party had 33 newspapers and 6 semi-affiliated newspapers.[9] The party had its own publishing house, Det norske Arbeiderpartis forlag, succeeded by Tiden Norsk Forlag. In addition to books and pamphlets, Det norske Arbeiderpartis forlag published Maidagen (annual May Day publication), Arbeidets Jul (annual Christmas publication) and Arbeiderkalenderen (calendar).[10]

From its roots as a radical alternative to the political establishment, the party grew to its current dominance through several eras:

The party experienced a split in 1921 caused by a decision made two years earlier to join the Communist International, and the Social Democratic Labour Party of Norway was formed. In 1923 the party left the Communist International, while a significant minority of its members left the party to form the Communist Party of Norway. In 1927, the Social Democrats were reunited with Labour. Some Communists also joined Labour, whereas other Communists tried a failed merger endeavor which culminated in the formation of the Arbeiderklassens Samlingsparti.

The first Labour government, led by Christopher Hornsrud, was formed in 1928, lasting only two weeks. During the early 1930s Labour abandoned its revolutionary profile and set a reformist course. Labour then returned to government in 1935 and remained in power until 1965 (except for the World War II exile period between 1940–1945 and one month in 1963). During most of the first twenty years after World War II, Einar Gerhardsen lead the party and the country. He is often referred to as "Landsfaderen" (Father of the Nation), and is generally considered one of the main architects of the rebuilding of Norway after World War II. This is often considered the "golden age" of the Norwegian Labour Party.

The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1938 and 1940.[11]

Other periods of the Labour Party's leadership of the national government have been 1971-1972, 1973–1981, 1986–1989, 1990–1997, 2000–2001 and since 2005. Thus, the party has held power for 24 of the past 38 years (to 2009).

In the election in 2001 the party reached a low point of 24.3% of the popular vote, but was still the largest party in the Storting. In the election of 2005 the party regained support and received 32.7% of the popular vote. It is the leading partner in the centre-left Red-Green Coalition, which won a majority in the 2005 elections. Labour leader Jens Stoltenberg became prime minister and leads a coalition government (the first one that the Norwegian Labour Party has entered). He was previously prime minister from 2000 to 2001.

In 2011, the party changed its name from the Norwegian Labour Party (Det norske arbeiderparti) to the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet). The party claimed there had been confusion among voters at polling stations because of the difference between the official name, Norwegian Labour Party, and the colloquial name "Labour Party". The name change will cause Arbeiderpartiet to appear on the ballot, thus eliminating any potential confusion.[12][13]

On 22 July 2011, a gunman opened fire at the Labour Party's youth camp (ages 11-25), killing 69 people.

Party leaders

Votes to the Labour Party in the 2009 election, by county
The Labour Party's number of seats in parliament by county after the 2009 election

Labour Prime Ministers

Parliamentary election results

Parliamentary election results, Arbeiderpartiet.
Campaign booth at Karl Johans gate ahead of the Norwegian local elections, 2007.
Year  % of votes Members of the Storting
1894 0.3 0 out of 114
1897 0.6 0 out of 114
1900 5.2 0 out of 114
1903 12.1 4 out of 117
1906 15.9 11 out of 123
1909 21.5 11 out of 123
1912 26.2 23 out of 123
1915 32.0 19 out of 123
1918 31.6 18 out of 126
1921 21.3 29 out of 150
1924 18.4 24 out of 150
1927 36.8 59 out of 150
1930 31.4 47 out of 150
1933 40.1 69 out of 150
1936 42.5 70 out of 150
1945 41.0 76 out of 150
1949 45.7 85 out of 150
1953 46.7 77 out of 150
1957 48.3 78 out of 150
1961 46.8 74 out of 150
1965 43.1 68 out of 150
1969 46.5 74 out of 150
1973 35.3 62 out of 155
1977 42.3 76 out of 155
1981 37.1 65 out of 155
1985 40.8 71 out of 157
1989 34.3 63 out of 165
1993 36.9 67 out of 165
1997 35.0 65 out of 165
2001 24.3 43 out of 165
2005 32.7 61 out of 169
2009 35.4 64 out of 169


  1. ^ Røed, Lars-Ludvig (7 January 2009). "Lengre mellom partimedlemmene i dag". Aftenposten. 
  2. ^ Libell, Henrik Pryser (28 August 2011). "7 prosent vekst for ungdomspartiene siden 22/7" (in Norwegian). MandagMorgen. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Prinsipp- og arbeidsprogram Det norske Arbeiderparti 1997
  4. ^ "Valg 2011: Landsoversikt per parti" (in Norwegian). Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Arbeidarpartiet" (in Norwegian). Valg 2011. Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Parties and Elections in Europe
  7. ^ a b Arbeiderpartiet - Ørnen i Norge - Partiene - NRK Nyheter
  8. ^ Bjørnson, Øyvind (1990) (in Norwegian). På klassekampens grunn 1900-1920. Volume two of Arbeiderbevegelsens historie i Norge. Oslo: Tiden. p. 276. ISBN 82-10-02752-2. 
  9. ^ Maurseth, Per (1987) (in Norwegian). Gjennom kriser til makt 1920-1935. Volume three of Arbeiderbevegelsens historie i Norge. Oslo: Tiden. p. 65. ISBN 82-10-02753-0. 
  10. ^ Maurseth, 1987: p. 66
  11. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 310
  12. ^ Slutt på Det norske Arbeiderparti
  13. ^ Arbeiderpartiet skifter navn

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