Liberal Party of Norway


Liberal Party of Norway

Infobox Norwegian political party
party_articletitle = Liberal Party of Norway
party_name = "Venstre"
Liberal Party of Norway
name_native = Venstre
colorcode = #47b539
party_
leader = Lars Sponheim
foundation = 1884
founder = Johan Sverdrup
ideology = Social liberalism
youth_wing = Unge Venstre
headquarters = Oslo
europarl = European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
international = Liberal International
members =
website = [http://www.venstre.no/ Venstre]

The Liberal Party of Norway ( _no. Venstre, V, meaning "left") is a social liberal political party in Norway. It is the oldest political party in the country, founded in 1884. From 1996 the party has been led by Lars Sponheim, while the vice-presidents are Ola Elvestuen and Trine Skei Grande. In the 2005 elections, Venstre won 5,9% of the votes, and 10 seats in Stortinget. Internationally, Venstre is a member of the Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party.

Policies

Venstre is a social liberal and centrist party. Through its history it has taken part in both center-right and pure centrist coalition governments. From 2001 to 2005, it was in a centre-right coalition government with Høyre and Kristelig Folkeparti, after the last election, it is now in opposition. Since the early 1970s, environmental issues have been the policy area most associated with the party. In the last few election campaigns, Venstre's main focus has been on environmental issues, education, small-business and social issues. The party advocates a reform of the Norwegian welfare state through a guaranteed minimum income (Borgerlønn) for all citizens. Some other issues Venstre advocate are increased labour immigration, abolition of the Church of Norway as the State church, an approach to a system of Flat tax with deductions and more power to local authorities (kommuner.) At the national convention in 2005, Venstre decided with a margin of only five votes to still be opposed to Norway joining the European Union. It prefers continued membership in the European Economic Area. In 2007, Venstre became the first Norwegian party to advocate legal file sharing. [cite web |url=http://www.uv.no/politics/translated-items/culture-wants-to-be-free?set_language=en |title=Culture wants to be free! |accessdate=2007-04-16] [cite web |url=http://www.venstre.no/artikkel/2780/ |title=Slipp kulturen fri! (Norwegian original resolution) |accessdate=2007-04-17]

The liberal policies of Venstre include finding pluralism in the large society, and fighting for acceptance and value amid the Norwegian people, in spite of their cultural, ethnic or social backgrounds. Venstre's goal is to have a society where redundant problems in the hunt for liberty and originality are removed, and where democratic organs determine how their common resources are put to use.

History

The party Venstre was formed in 1884 in connection with the dispute about whether or not to introduce parliamentarism in Norway. Venstre (which means Left in Norwegian) was the party advocating parliamentarism, whereas the conservatives, who opposed parliamentarism, formed the party Høyre (which means Right). When the fight for parliamentarism was won, Venstre's leader Johan Sverdrup became the first Norwegian prime minister to be appointed on the basis of having the support of a majority in the Storting. Later, Venstre advocated universal suffrage for men, which was achieved in 1898, the break-up of the Swedish-Norwegian Union, which happened in 1905, and universal women's suffrage, which was introduced in 1913. In the first decades after 1884, Venstre formed several governments, interspersed with periods of Høyre-governments. Six different Prime Ministers of Norway have come from Venstre, all of them before 1935. With the growth of Arbeiderpartiet (the labour party), Venstre gradually lost ground. The election of 1915 was the last in which Venstre was the largest party and won an outright majority in the Storting. Venstre was further weakened with the formation of Bondepartiet (the farmers' party, the present day Senterpartiet) in 1920, and Kristelig Folkeparti (Christian peoples' party) in 1933, both of which were formed partly by former Venstre-members. After World War II, Venstre has been part of four coalition governments, the most recent one being the second government of Kjell Magne Bondevik from 2001 to 2005.

A dispute over Norwegian membership in the European Community, now the European Union, made the party split up at Røros in 1972, with the people favoring EC membership departing, and forming Det Liberale Folkepartiet ("The Liberal People's Party"). These included the party leader, "Helge Seip", and 9 of the 13 members of parliament. Since then, Venstre has been a fairly small party. The parliamentary group was reduced to two after the 1973 election.

In 1974, Venstre elected the first female leader of a political party in Norway, Eva Kolstad.

Election results continued to be poor for Venstre. Before the 1985 elections, the party announced for the first, and so far only, time that they would support a Labour Party government. At the following election they lost their two remaining seats, and were without representation in the Norwegian Parliament for the first time. In 1988, Venstre was re-united with the splinter party from 1972, now calling itself Det Liberale Folkepartiet (the Liberal People's Party), but at the elections of 1989, the re-united party again failed to win parliamentary seats. In 1993 the party again failed to achieve the 4% threshold which would make them eligible for the "equalizing" seats in parliament, but Lars Sponheim was elected directly from Hordaland county. (Before the election, Sponheim had made the wager that he would walk across the mountains from his home in Ulvik to the parliament in capital city Oslo if elected—a wager he delivered on, to much good-humoured interest from the press.)

In 1997, Venstre passed the 4% threshold, increasing their seats in parliament to six. As a consequence Venstre also saw their first participation in cabinet since 1973. The party held four seats in the minority first government of Kjell Magne Bondevik. Lars Sponheim became minister of industry and commerce, Odd Einar Dørum; minister of communications, later minister of justice, Guro Fjellanger; minister of environmental protection, and Eldbjørg Løwer; minister of administration, later minister of defense. Mrs. Løwer was the first female minister of defense in Norway. This cabinet resigned in 2000, refusing to accept the Storting's decicion to build gas power plants. In 2001, Venstre narrowly failed to reach the 4% threshold, but got two representatives elected, Sponheim and Odd Einar Dørum. However, due to Venstre becoming part of the second coalition government of Kjell Magne Bondevik, with Sponheim and Dørum entering the cabinet, the two were represented in parliament by deputies. The party also got a third member of the cabinet, with the appointment of Torild Skogsholm as Minister of Transport and Communications.

The 2005 elections gave Venstre 5.9% of the vote, their best result since the 1969 elections. Venstre won 6 seats directly, and an additional 4 seats through the 4%+ equalizing system. Due to the majority of the Red-Green Coalition, Venstre are now an opposition party, and looks set to remain so until the 2009 elections.

Name of the party

While the name of the party means "Left" in Norwegian, the party refers to itself as a centrist party. Since the Senterpartiet ("The Centre Party") is a component of the governing left alliance, and "Venstre" is part of the "non-socialist" opposition, a situation has been produced where the "centre" party is more on the left than "Left" itself. When the name "Left" was chosen in 1884, the word did not refer to socialism in the way "Left wing" does today. It meant "liberal" or "radical" in comparison to the "conservatives" on the right, and referred to the position of the seats in Parliament. The use of the word for "left" in the names of the Danish political parties "Venstre" and "Radikale Venstre" is also meant to refer to Liberalism and not Socialism.

The term originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right.

Party leaders

*1884 Johan Sverdrup
*1884-1889 Ole Anton Qvam
*1889-1893 Johannes Steen
*1893-1894 Viggo Ullmann
*1894-1896 Ole Anton Qvam
*1898-1900 Viggo Ullmann
*1900-1903 Lars Holst
*1903-1909 Carl Berner
*1909-1927 Gunnar Knudsen
*1927-1940 Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
*1945-1952 Jacob S. Worm-Müller
*1952-1964 Bent Røiseland
*1964-1970 Gunnar Garbo
*1970-1972 Helge Seip
*1972-1974 Helge Rognlien
*1974-1976 Eva Kolstad
*1976-1982 Hans Hammond Rosbach
*1982-1986 Odd Einar Dørum
*1986-1990 Arne Fjørtoft
*1990-1992 Håvard Alstadheim
*1992-1996 Odd Einar Dørum
*1996-present Lars Sponheim

Prime ministers from Venstre

*1884-1889 Johan Sverdrup
*1891-1893 Johannes Steen
*1898-1902 Johannes Steen
*1902-1903 Otto Blehr
*1907-1908 Jørgen Løvland
*1908-1910 Gunnar Knudsen
*1913-1920 Gunnar Knudsen
*1921-1923 Otto Blehr
*1924-1926 Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
*1928-1931 Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
*1933-1935 Johan Ludwig Mowinckel

Election results, parliamentary elections 1906-2005

ee also

*Liberalism
*Contributions to liberal theory
*Liberalism worldwide
*List of liberal parties
*Liberal democracy
*Liberalism in Norway

References

External links

* [http://www.venstre.no/ Venstre] official site (in Norwegian)
* [http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/innenriks/valg/val_2007/resultat/?type=parti&id=v#valresultat Election results for Venstre in the 2007 local elections]


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