Norway: Policy Pursuit and Coalition Avoidance

  • Kaare Strom
  • Jorn Leipart


The post-war era of government formation in Norway can be divided into two distinct periods. Prior to the Storting (parliamentary) election of 1961, Norway had a series of stable, single-party, majority governments. After this watershed election, which deprived the Norwegian Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) of a parliamentary majority for the first time since 1945, Norwegian governments have typically been less stable, more often than not minority administrations, and in several cases coalitions. Since 1961 Norway has had thirteen minority and only three majority governments. Seven of these governments have been coalitions, whereas nine have consisted of only one party. While the basis of Norwegian governments has changed substantially over the post-war period, other patterns of government formation have remained stable:
  1. (1)

    All Norwegian governments have been either exclusively socialist or exclusively non-socialist. Peacetime coalitions between socialist and non-socialist parties have never existed.

  2. (2)

    The Labour Party has eschewed coalitions not only with non-socialist parties, but also with any of the smaller parties to its left. In several elections, the Labour Party has indeed made a campaign issue out of its resistance to coalition politics. Thus, a socialist government has meant a cabinet of Labour alone. Since 1961 a socialist government has therefore also meant a minority government.

  3. (3)

    Non-socialist governments, on the other hand, have tended to be coalitions (see Rommetvedt, 1984). In all but one case, non-socialist governments have included at least three parties. The exception is the first Willoch government (1981–83), a purely Conservative administration. This government nevertheless enjoyed fairly consistent parliamentary support from the Christian People’s and Centre parties.



Government Coalition Labour Party Government Formation Minimum Winning Coalition Minority Government 
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Copyright information

© M. J. Laver and Ian Budge 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaare Strom
  • Jorn Leipart

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