The Conservative Party (Norway)

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Norwegian Conservative Party
Party leader Erna Solberg
Parliamentary leader Trond Helleland
Founded 1884
Headquarters Oslo
Political ideology Euroconservatism
Liberal conservatism
Political position Center-right
International affiliation IDU, EPP1
Color(s) Blue, white
1 Associated member, as Norway is a non-member of the EU.

The Norwegian Conservative Party (Norwegian: Høyre, H, literally meaning Right) is a political party in Norway, representing euroconservatism and liberal conservatism. After the parliamentary election in 2013, the Conservative Party is the second largest political party of Norway, holding 48 of 169 seats in Storting. The party has since formed a government with the Progress Party. Conservative Party leader since 2004 and Norwegian prime minister is Erna Solberg.


Early years

The party was founded in 1884, as the second political party in Norway, representing an opposition against the Liberal Party, founded earlier the same year. The Conservative Party was a reaction against parliamentarian and women's suffrage, and universal suffrage in general. The party wanted to maintain the union with Sweden (which was later dissolved after a referendum in 1905). Most of the members in the party's early beginning were governmental officers, traders and land owners.

The Conservative and Liberal Parties changed on having the governmental power in the early years, from 1884 to 1928, when Labor Party established its first government, after winning the parliamentary election the same year; the Conservative Party's main enemy wasn't any longer the Liberal Party.

Before the World War II, C. J. Hambro raised as the Conservative Party and Norway's most important parliamentarian. He led the Storting's Committee on Foreign Affairs, and was Parliament Speaker, in most of the 1930s. He warned against extremist ideologies a good while before the World War II came and others realized the same as him.

In opposition, 1945–1963

From the end of the Second World War to 1963, the Labor Party's Einar Gerhardsen was the Prime Minister of Norway, while the Conservative Party was the largest party in opposition. The Labor Party's absolute majority in the parliament caused frustration in the Conservative Party. Despite this, the party got important leaders like C. J. Hambro, Alv Kjøs, Sjur Lindebrække and John Lyng.

New will, 1963–1981

The Labour Party had to give the governmental power to the Conservative Party because of the scandal relating to the King's Bay mine accident. John Lyng's government couldn't govern Norway for long before the party had to give the power back to the Labour Party already the same year. Though, Lyng's right-wing coalition government gave hope for the right-wing opposition, and the Conservative Party became a part of Per Borten's coalition government (1965–1971). Borten represented the Center Party, and had to resign because of a scandal where Borten was accused of giving top secret documents to representatives from the European Union. However, later investigations and statements showed that Borten was innocent.

In charge, 1981–1990

The Conservative Party won the 1981 parliamentary election, and Kåre Willoch became Prime Minister. The Willoch's first government was the first Conservative-only government sine Emil Stang's second government (1893–1895), and since not been succeeded by another Conservative-only government. After the 1985 parliamentary election, also the Christian Democrats and the Centre Party was included into the government, Willoch II. Willoch's government did things like removing the tax for fortune, and dissolving the NRK monopoly of Norwegian broadcasting, leading to an explosion of the number of radio stations, and leading up to the creation of TV2 in 1991. After a dispute between the Progress Party and the government, Willoch's government fell in a vote of no confidence in 1986.

The Labour Party was in charge from 1986 to 1989, when a government consisting of the same parties as in Willoch II took the power. Jan P. Syse from the Conservative Party was Prime Minister until 1990, when his government fell due to a vote of no confidence, where the Centre Party voted against its own government because of Syse's decision about working for Norway's entering into the European Economic Area. Syse is per 2008 the last Prime Minister of Norway representing the Conservative Party.

Today, since 1991

The discussion about joining the European Union was the most important case in the 1993 parliamentary election, and was the main reason that the Conservative Party dropped down from the place as second largest party, to being the third largest one. The Conservative Party was beaten by the Centre Party, as the Centre Party became the largest opposer to a Norwegian membership of the EU. The referendum in 1994 gave the opposers a little majority, with 52,2 percent of the total vote (voter turnout was 88,6 percent, the highest in Norwegian history). The Conservative Party made it worst election result since the first World War in 1997, but raised in 2001, and came into a cabinet together with the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party, supported by the Progressive Party. Lost the election in 2005, but improved in 2009, though without regaining power. The party formed a government with the Progress Party after the 2013 elections.

Criticism from economic leftists

  • Party for the rich. This believe has been uphold by the left-wing parties in more than hundred years, mainly because the Conservative Party was an interest party for the middle and upper class in the beginning. Today, the worker's class has more or less disappeared in Norway, and most people can define themselves as middle class. It is internal stated: "The Conservative Party shall be a party for everybody, not just those who vote for us. We shall be the party for the nurse, the industrial worker, the engineer, the bank director, and the immigrant boy. If the unemployed man at home in a small apartment in Oslo doesn't vote for us, that doesn't mean that we won't make it easier for him to get a job again."
  • Only tax cuts for the rich. Used as an argument by, especially, the Labour Party against the Conservative Party, most recently in the 2005 parliamentary election. The party supports tax cuts for everybody (and was done when the party was in government; 2001–2005), not just the rich, so the criticism is built upon wrong facts.


Prime Ministers

Political parties in Norway
Centre PartyChristian Democratic PartyConservative PartyLabour PartyLiberal PartyProgress PartySocialist Left Party