- Parliament of Norway
The Norwegian Parliament
Type Type Unicameral Leadership President of the Storting Dag Terje Andersen, Labour
since 8 October 2009
Structure Members 169 (since 2005) Political groups Ap (64)
Elections Last election 14 September 2009 Meeting place Parliament Building, Oslo Website www.stortinget.no Norway
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Politics and government of
The Storting (English: Great thing) is the supreme legislature of Norway, located in Oslo. The unicameral parliament has 169 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation in nineteen plural member constituencies. The assembly is led by a presidium of a president and five vice presidents; since 2009 Dag Terje Andersen has been president. The members are allocated to twelve standing committees, as well as four procedural committees. Almost all public agencies of Norway are subordinate to the government, but three ombudsmen, the Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee and the Office of the Auditor General are directly subordinate to parliament.
Parliament was established by the Constitution of Norway in 1814 and has since 1866 met in the Parliament of Norway Building, designed by Emil Victor Langlet. Parliamentarianism was established in 1884, and until 2009 practiced qualified unicameralism with two chambers: the Lagting and the Odelsting. Following the 2009 election, seven parties are represented in parliament: the Labour Party (64 representatives), the Progress Party (41), the Conservative Party (30), the Socialist Left Party (11), the Centre Party (11), the Christian Democratic Party (10) and the Liberal Party (2).
The parliament in its present form was first constituted at Eidsvoll in 1814, although its origins can be traced back to the allting or common assemblies as early as the 9th century. The alltings were localised assemblies charged with discussing legal and political matters. These gradually were formalised so that the tings, or assemblies, grew into regionalised meetings and acquired backing and authority from the crown, even to the extent that on occasions they were instrumental in effecting change in the monarchy itself. As Norway became unified as a geopolitical entity in the 10th century, the lagtings were established as superior regional assemblies. The archaic regional assemblies, the Frostating, the Gulating, the Eidsivating and the Borgarting were amalgamated and the corpus of law was set down under the command of King Magnus Lagabøte during the mid-13th century. This jurisdiction remained significant until King Frederick III proclaimed absolute monarchy in 1660; this was ratified by the passage of the King Act of 1665, and this became the constitution of the Union of Denmark and Norway and remained so until 1814 and the foundation of the Storting.
The number of seats in the Storting has varied: from 1882 there were 114 seats, from 1903 117, from 1906 123, from 1918 126, from 1921 150, from 1973 155, from 1985 157, from 1989 165 and from 2005 169 seats.
Qualified unicameralism (1814–2009)
Although the Storting has always been unicameral, until 2009 it would divide itself into two departments in legislative matters. After elections, the Storting would elect a quarter of its membership to form the Lagting a sort of "upper house", with the remaining three quarters forming the Odelsting or "lower house". The division was also used on very rare occasions in cases of impeachment. The original idea in 1814 was probably to have the Lagting act as an actual upper house, and the senior and more experienced members of the Storting were placed there. Later, however, the composition of the Lagting closely followed that of the Odelsting so that there was very little that differentiated them, and the passage of a bill in the Lagting was mostly a formality.
Bills were submitted by the Government to the Odelsting or by a member of the Odelsting—members of the Lagting were not permitted to propose legislation by themselves. A standing committee, with members from both the Odelsting and Lagting, would then consider the bill, and in some cases hearings were held. If passed by the Odelsting, the bill would be sent to the Lagting for review or revision. Most bills were passed unamended by the Lagting and then sent directly to the king for royal assent (which is only a formality). If the Lagting amended the Odelsting's decision, the bill would be sent back to the Odelsting. If the Odelsting approved the Lagting's amendments, the bill would be signed into law by the King. If it did not, then the bill would return to the Lagting. If the Lagting still proposed amendments, the bill would be submitted a plenary session of the Storting. In order to be passed, the bill should have then had the approval of a two-thirds majority of the plenary session. In all other cases a simple majority would suffice. Three days had to pass between each time a department voted on a bill. In all other cases, such as taxes and appropriations, the Storting would meet in plenary sessions.
A proposal to amend the constitution and abolish the system of Odelsting and Lagting was introduced in 2004 and was passed by the Storting on 20 February 2007 (159–1 with nine absentees). It took effect with the newly elected Storting in 2009.
The legislative procedure goes through five stages. First, a bill is introduced to parliament either by a member of government or, in the case of a private member's bill, by any individual representative. Parliament will refer the bill to the relevant standing committee, where it will be subject for detailed consideration in the committee stage. The first reading takes place when parliament debates the recommendation from the committee, and will make a vote. If the bill is dismissed, the procedure ends. The second reading takes place at least three days after the first reading, in which parliament debates the bill again. A new vote is taken, and if successful, the bill is submitted to the King in Council of royal assent. If parliament comes to a different conclusion in the second reading, a third reading will be held at least three days later, repeating the debate and vote, and may adopt the amendments from the second reading or finally dismiss the bill. Once the bill has reached the King in Council, the bill must be signed by the monarch and countersigned by the prime minister. It then becomes Norwegian law from the date stated in the act or decided by the government.
Position Representative Party President Dag Terje Andersen Labour 1st Vice President Øyvind Korsberg Progress 2nd Vice President Per Kristian Foss Conservative 3rd Vice President Marit Nybakk Labour 4th Vice President Akhtar Chaudhry Socialist Left 5th Vice President Line Henriette Holten Hjemdal Christian Democratic
The members of parliament are allocated into twelve standing committees, of which eleven are related to specific political topics. The last is the Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs. The standing committees have a portfolio that covers that of one or more government ministers.
Committee Chair Chair's party Business and Industry Terje Aasland Labour Education, Research and Church Affairs Marianne Aasen Labour Energy and the Environment Erling Sande Centre Family and Cultural Affairs Gunn Karin Gjul Labour Finance and Economic Affairs Torgeir Micaelsen Labour Foreign Affairs and Defence Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide Conservative Health and Care Services Bent Høie Conservative Justice Per Sandberg Progress Labour and Social Affairs Robert Eriksson Progress Local Government and Public Administration Heikki Holmås Socialist Left Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs Anders Anundsen Progress Transport and Communications Knut Arild Hareide Christian Democratic
There are four other committees, that run parallel to the standing committees. The Enlarged Committee on Foreign Affairs consists of members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, the presidium and the parliamentary leaders. The committee discusses important issues related to foreign affairs, trade policy and national safety with the government. Discussions are confidential. The European Committee consists of the members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and the parliamentary delegation to the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). The committee conducts discussions with the government regarding directives from the European Union.
The Election Committee consists of 37 members, and is responsible for internal elections within the parliament, as well as delegating and negotiating party and representative allocation within the presidium, standing committees and other committees. The Preparatory Credentials Committee has 16 members and is responsible for approving the election.
Five public agencies are appointed by parliament rather than by the government. The Office of the Auditor General is the auditor of all branches of the public administration and is responsible for auditing, monitoring and advising all state economic activities. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is an ombudsman responsible for public administration. It can investigate any public matter that has not been processed by an elected body, the courts or within the military. The Ombudsman for the Armed Forces is an ombudsman responsible for the military. The Ombudsman for Civilian National Servicemen is responsible for people serving civilian national service. The Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee is a seven-member body responsible for supervising public intelligence, surveillance and security services. Parliament also appoints the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that award the Nobel Peace Prize.
Parliament has an administration of about 400 people, led by Secretary-General Hans Brattestå, who assumed office in 1990. He also acts as secretary for the presidium.
Each party represented in parliament has a party group. It is led by a group board and chaired by a parliamentary leader. It is customary for the party leader to also act as parliamentary leader, but since party leaders of government parties normally sit as ministers, governing parties elect other representatives as their parliamentary leaders.
Party Seats Parliamentary leader Labour Party 64 Helga Pedersen Progress Party 41 Siv Jensen (also party leader) Conservative Party 30 Erna Solberg (also party leader) Socialist Left Party 11 Bård Vegard Solhjell Centre Party 11 Trygve Magnus Slagsvold Vedum Christian Democratic Party 10 Hans Olav Syversen Liberal Party 2 Trine Skei Grande (also party leader)
Members to Stortinget are elected based on party-list proportional representation in plural member constituencies. This means that representatives from different political parties, are elected from each constituency. The constituencies are identical to the 19 counties of Norway. The electorate does not vote for individuals but rather for party lists, with a ranked list of candidates nominated by the party. This means that the person on top of the list will get the seat unless the voter alters the ballot. Parties may nominate candidates from outside their own constituency, and even Norwegian citizens currently living abroad.
The Sainte-Laguë method is used for allocating parliamentary seats to parties. As a result, the percentage of representatives is roughly equal to the nationwide percentage of votes. Still, a party with a high number of votes in only one constituency can win a seat there even if the nationwide percentage is low. This has happened several times in Norwegian history. Conversely, if a party's initial representation in Stortinget is proportionally less than it share of votes, the party may seat more representatives through leveling seats , provided that the nationwide percentage is above the election threshold, currently at 4%. In 2009, nineteen seats were allocated via the leveling system. Elections are held each four years, normally on the second Monday of September.
Unlike most other parliaments, the Storting always serves its full four-year term; the Constitution does not allow snap elections. Substitutes for each deputy are elected at the same time as each election, so by-elections are rare.
2009 election result
Following the elections on 14 September 2009, the Red–Green Coalition of the Labour Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party succeeded at keeping a majority of the seats. Although the Socialist Left Party lost four seats, three were regained by the Labour Party. This allowed Stoltenberg's Second Cabinet to continue. The greatest loss was suffered by the Liberal Party, that fell below the election threshold and lost eight of ten representatives. The Conservative Party gained seven seats and the Progress Party gained three, but this was not sufficient to hold a right-winged majority. Voter turnout was 76.4%.
Norwegian parliamentary election resultsSummary of the September 14, 2009 Parties Votes MPs # % ±pp swing # ± % Norwegian Labour Party (Det norske Arbeiderparti) 949,049 35.4 +2.7 64 +3 37.9 Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) 614,717 22.9 +0.8 41 +3 24.3 Conservative Party (Høyre) 462,458 17.2 +3.1 30 +7 17.8 Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) 166,361 6.2 −2.6 11 −4 6.5 Centre Party (Senterpartiet) 165,006 6.2 −0.3 11 0 6.5 Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti) 148,748 5.5 −1.3 10 −1 5.9 Liberal Party (Venstre) 104,144 3.9 −2.0 2 −8 1.2 Red Party (Rødt) 36,219 1.3 +0.1 0 0 Pensioners' Party (Pensjonistpartiet) 11,900 0.4 0.0 0 0 Green Party (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) 9,286 0.3 +0.2 0 0 Coastal Party (Kystpartiet) 5,341 0.2 −0.6 0 0 Christian Unity Party (Kristent Samlingsparti) 4,936 0.2 0.0 0 0 Democrats (Demokratene) 2,285 0.1 0.0 0 0 Communist Party of Norway (Norges Kommunistiske Parti) 697 0.0 0.0 0 0 Liberal People's Party (Det Liberale Folkeparti) 350 0.0 0.0 0 0 Contemporary Party (Samtidspartiet) 264 0.0 – 0 – Center Alliance (Sentrumsalliansen) 241 0.0 – 0 – Norwegian Patriots (NorgesPatriotene) 183 0.0 – 0 – Vigrid 179 0.0 – 0 – Abortion Opponents' List (Abortmotstandernes Liste) 178 0.0 –0.1 0 0 Society Party (Samfunnspartiet) 140 0.0 0.0 0 0 One (Written) Language (Ett (skrift)språk) 103 0.0 – 0 – Non-Partisan Deputies (Tverrpolitisk folkevalgte) 64 0.0 – 0 – Norwegian Republican Alliance (Norsk Republikansk Allianse) 54 0.0 0.0 0 0 Total 2,682,903 100.0 169 – Blank votes 11,684 0.4 Invalid votes 2,048 0.1 Turnout 2,696,468 76.4 Electorate 3,530,785 Source: Statistics Norway
Since 5 March 1866, parliament has met in the Parliament of Norway Building at Karl Johans gate 22 in Oslo. The building was designed by the Swedish architect Emil Victor Langlet and is built in yellow brick with details and basement in light gray granite. It is a combination of several styles, including inspirations from France and Italy. Parliament also meets[clarification needed] in several other offices in the surrounding area, since the building is too small to hold the current staff of the legislature.
- List of Presidents of the Storting
- ^ Stortinget.no
- ^ a b Ryssevik, Jostein (2002) (in Norwegian). I samfunnet. Norsk politikk. Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 9788203328527.
- ^ Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. "Valg 2009 Landsoversikt - Stortingsvalget" (in Norwegian). Government.no. http://www.regjeringen.no/krd/html/valg2009/bs5.html. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
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