The Norwegian Parlament: The main principles of the Constitution were founded, for the most part, on the same ideals expressed in the constitutions of the United States of America (1776) and of the French Republic (1791, 1793, 1795).
When Norway was united as a kingdom (900 – 1030 AD), the first lagtings were constituted as superior regional assemblies. These were representative assemblies at which delegates from the various districts in each region met to award legal judgments and pass laws.
The first germs of democratic evolution appeared in matters of law. The ancient regional assemblies – Frostating, Gulating and Eidsivating – were eventually joined into a single jurisdiction, and King Magnus Lagabøte had the existing body of law put into writing (1263-80). This compilation of codified law which applied throughout the realm was exceptional for its time, and remained in force until Frederik III, king of the Danish-Norwegian union, promulgated absolute monarchy in 1660. This was codified in the King Act of 1665 which functioned as the constitution of the Union of Denmark-Norway until 1814.
In 1807, Sweden, Denmark and Norway were swept up into the Napoleonic Wars which raged in full force on the Continent, with Denmark-Norway and Sweden on opposite sides of the conflict. Napoleon´s defeat in Russia in 1812 was the beginning of the end for the emperor and for the Union of Denmark-Norway. Sweden sided with Napoleon”s adversaries, and the Allies promised the successor to the Swedish throne, Karl XIV Johan, Norway if he joined them in subduing France.
Following the decisive victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, Karl XIV Johan hurried north to inflict a final defeat on Denmark. Frederik VI of Denmark yielded quickly, and on 14 January 1814 he signed the Treaty of Kiel, ceding Norway to the King of Sweden. The Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik, who came to Norway in May 1813 as vice regent, played a prominent role in the drama which subsequently unfolded in 1814.
He repudiated the Treaty of Kiel, and on 16 February 1814, called together the most influential men in Norway to an assembly at Eidsvoll, the purpose of which was to discuss Norway´s future. At this assembly, Christian Frederik was dissuaded from his original intention to assert his hereditary title to the throne of Norway and have himself acclaimed king.
The delegates to this assembly called for a liberal constitution and a new king to be chosen by the people. They decided that the people should elect deputies to a constituent national assembly. The idea of the sovereignty of the people had prevailed. Christian Frederik was to govern the country for the time being as regent.
Of the 112 representatives to the Constituent Assembly at Eidsvoll, 25 represented the towns, 33 represented the army and navy, and 54 represented the rural districts (amt). By occupation they included 37 landowning farmers, 13 merchants, 5 industrialists and 57 government officials. Due to its remoteness and the shortness of time, northern Norway was not represented.
The assembly celebrated Easter Sunday together on 10 April 1814, and the following day, the Prince Regent convened the Constituent Assembly. The assembly had to work swiftly in order to draft and adopt a national constitution before the Great Powers stepped in.
THE MEMBERS OF THE PARLIAMENT
- A The Labour Party
- FrP The Progress Party
- H The Conservative Party
- SV The Socialist Left Party
- Krf The Christian Democratic Party
- Sp The Centre Party
- V The Liberals
THE PRIME MINISTER
The Prime Minister is the most senior member of the Government, responsible for coordinating and leading the work of the Government. The title “statsminister” (literally “minister of state”) was adopted in 1814, following the Swedish pattern.
THE CONSTITUTION DAY 17 MAY 1814
On Tuesday the 17th of May, the constitution was signed and sealed. On the same day, Christian Frederik was elected King of a free, sovereign and independent Norway – unanimously, though 16 delegates expressed some reservations. On 19 May, the newly-elected King presented himself to the Constituent Assembly and swore an oath on the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly held its last meeting the following day, and in closing, all the delegates joined hands and raised their voices with the cry, “United and faithful until the Mountains of Dovre should crumble!”.
With this, Norway had established its Constitution and founded its national assembly – the Storting.
THE UNION WITH SWEDEN (1814 – 1905)
Having declared Norway as a free, sovereign and independent country, the Norwegians were dependent on the acceptance from the major power in Europe, Great Britain. In spite of intense Norwegian diplomatic activity towards the British government, Britain stood by its former allied, Sweden, and the Treaty of Kiel. Karl XIV Johan of Sweden invaded Norway in the summer of 1814 and the Norwegian had to settle for a peace treaty accepting a union with Sweden under the Swedish king. Norway was to keep its new constitution (with some amendments) and a Norwegian parliament. The Swedish king appointed his Norwegian government.
There was to be a continuous struggle for power between the Norwegian parliament and the Swedish king for the duration of the union. The union was dissolved in 1905.
THE MOST IMPORTANT POWERS OF THE STORTING
To pass new laws and amend or repeal the exisiting ones
To adopt the Fiscal Budget, i.e. to fix the annual revenues (taxes, charges, etc.) and expenditures of the State
To authorize plans and guidelines for the activities of the State through discussions of political issues of more general character (such as foreign policy), to take a stand on plans for reform, to approve major projects and so forth
VISIT THE NORWEGIAN PARLIAMENT
There are guided tours three times a day during summer, except Saturday and Sunday, from June to September. There is no need to book in advance. Public entrance: Karl Johansg. 22. There is maximum of 30 people in each guided tour.