countryaah, Norway was one of the countries in Europe that
best survived the consequences of the international
financial crisis. Oil revenues contributed to this. In
January, the government decided to increase the use of oil
revenues in the budget by more than NOK 16 billion for
municipal grants, investments in infrastructure and
efficiency in energy consumption. More than three billion
was set aside for tax relief. Despite the stimulus in the
economy, however, GDP was projected to decline by close to 2
percent during the year.
The fight for the autumn parliamentary elections
characterized politics from the beginning of the year. The
Progress Party played a key role in its capacity as the
largest opposition party and with the ambition to lead a
change of government. The party again took advantage of the
immigration issue and increased its opinion following its
speech about insidious Islamization of Norway and its harsh
criticism of the Minister of Justice, who wanted to allow
the headscarf for female police officers.
In the early summer, a scandal broke out. The military
intelligence service was suspected of illegally monitoring
data traffic for both King Harald and the court and the
government office. The Criminal Police launched an
investigation, and the military security service later
complained that employees opened the court's email.
During the summer, the Labor Party won success in public
opinion, but the coalition parties Socialist Left Party and
the Center Party lost ground. The position between the blocs
was very even before the election, which according to
analysts was decided by the bourgeois split on the
government issue. The Progress Party expected to participate
in a possible bourgeois government for the first time, and
leader Siv Jensen also hoped to become prime minister. Left
leader Lars Sponheim categorically rejected such cooperation
and was supported by the Christian People's Party. Instead,
both parties pointed to Høyrelaren Erna Solberg as suitable
prime minister, and Solberg himself seemed hesitant to
cooperate with the Progress Party as the closer the election
In contrast to the bourgeois divide, the red-green
government was a unified and tried-and-tested alternative,
although there were contradictions in foreign policy and
environmental issues. On election night, the position
changed between the blocks until the victory finally stopped
with the red-green government with 86 seats against 83 for
The Labor Party went up 35.4 percent, winning three new
seats and ending 64. The Center Party held the positions,
while the Socialist Left Party made its worst choice so far,
losing almost a third of its vote. On the bourgeois side,
the Progress Party made its best choice to date with 22.9
percent of the vote and 41 seats. Høyre went ahead with a
full seven seats, the Christian People's Party lost one, and
Venstre made a disaster election, lost eight of its ten
seats and remained at 3.9 percent of the vote. As a result,
Venstres leader Lars Sponheim resigned. The turnout was 78.4
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg formed a new red-green
government, where the Labor Party's position was
strengthened to twelve ministers and the Socialist Left
Party weakened, among other things by the passing of the
Finance Minister's post to the Labor Party's Sigbjørn
Scattered settlement, large distances and strong
regionalism are factors that have also influenced class
conditions in Norway. Norway is not one class society, but
several. Although both the land-owning upper class, the
trading families and the capital-owning citizenship
constitute certain national networks, each of these groups'
class characteristics can be discussed in relation to the
class relationships of other and larger societies.
The working class is also to some extent divided
regionally in terms of religion, language and lifestyle.
This is partly due to the fact that manual labor in Norway
is by far the most mobile. A chess in the mines or in the
factory is from ancient times composed of people from
several parts of the country with a great deal of migration
behind them. Studies of the migration of the working
population show that even far into the peasant community,
rural workers often moved - in the same way that workers do
today - and far more than the social strata that owned or
disposed of the means of production.
The removals have leveled regional and other differences
in the industrial working class and made it "ordinary" or
typically European. For example, it is strongly influenced
by outside ideas, because international socialism is
surprisingly often incorporated into the Norwegian labor
movement, despite its cultural and geographical distance to
the continent. Parties and divisions in the working class
follow international trends. They do not in the other
The working class probably has certain characteristics in
Norway. The strong edge radicalism is a consequence of the
country's special geography; but it is also a consequence of
the fact that the particularly militant attitudes of the
northern Norwegian working environment have rarely been able
to be organized on a larger scale beyond the local community
- precisely because of the distances, the geography. As an
organized movement, the working class in Norway is more
disciplined and more loyal to leadership than in most other
countries. But this must be seen in the context of the
general organizational culture, which is characterized by
strong center control, more than the special conditions of
the working class (see section Publicity and organization).
In contrast to the working class, the upper class is
significantly different in Norway than in other countries.
First, they are poorer. "Cottages and houses, no castles".
Neither agriculture nor industry has yielded nearly the same
concentrated wealth as in other countries. The symbolic and
cultural distinctiveness of the upper class is similarly
weak. The ultimate social extravagance that Norwegians have
been facing was when Bernt Anker, around the year 1800, had
his shirts washed in London. It was at a time when, for a
short period, the wooden cargo was making quick profits.
That this story continues to be conveyed through school and
upbringing says a lot about the relative poverty of the
Second, the upper class in Norway is not one, but
several. Big farmers, forest owners, traders and
industrialists can all be said to belong to the
capital-owning group. However, the way these capital groups
have been in conflict with each other, regionally and
economically, and the different behaviors they have shown
towards their respective dividend classes, constitute
significant differences and lines of conflict in Norwegian
politics. Especially in relation to abroad, through customs
issues and union cases, the conflict of interest within what
is simply called the bourgeoisie has been great. For
example, the battle between the Left and the Right up to
World War I severely divided the ranks.
A third feature of the upper class position in Norway is
their close association with abroad. Norwegian natural
values - apart from agricultural land and forests - could
not be capitalistically exploited without the introduction
of fixed capital. Foreign investors have therefore played a
major role in business. Mines, railways, power plants and
factory facilities were started with Swedish and English
capital - later also French and American.
||Industry and mountain works
foreign-owned shares as a percentage of total share
capital in Norwegian companies (at face value).
Sources: A. Stonehill: Foreign Ownership in
Norwegian Enterprises, Statistics Norway 1965.
Norges Bank: foreign ownership interests in
Norwegian companies, Note 1970.
The table is taken from Ståle Seierstad: Foreign
control of Norwegian business, in A. Seierstad and
others: Norway and the international large capital,
Oslo 1970. From the war up to 1970, the share of
foreign capital in industry and mining was
increasing, but it has stagnated in the 1970s.
The economic upper class in Norway - alongside the
peasant community - has, as a result, developed only a few
national institutions. National disputes in Norwegian
history have therefore often had a conflict between top and
bottom: Capital interests advocate open borders and free
communication with the outside world, while the broad
popular movements just as regularly stand for market
protection and a national argument.
Consequently, the link between nationalism and capital
interests that characterize much of the European right is
not very prevalent in Norway. There is no real conservatism
in the continental sense. The upper class case does not
stand strong in politics. In contrast, popular movements
have more leeway in Norway than in many other countries.
Shipping takes on an international specialty as a
profession. The shipowner - the traditional flagship of
Norwegian entrepreneurial spirit and capitalist daring - is
at the same time an economic group that is entirely
dependent on following foreign and not Norwegian interests.
The Norwegian class society has been tried several times.
However, no proper mapping has ever been done. Perhaps
because it is so difficult to include the multifaceted in
the structures. The traditional distinction between the
"capitalists" on the one hand and "the whole working people"
on the other, has always existed only on paper - first and
foremost in the party programs. The socialist parties like
to count the overwhelming majority of Norwegian citizens as
workers. But they have never succeeded in formulating a
unifying interest policy for more than 40-50% of this
majority. Indeed, the interests of the primary professions
with their special political structures cross the gap
between labor and capital.
Nevertheless, there are a few central institutions that
have expressed the exchange and at the same time maintained
a two-class pattern. In the countryside, it is natural to
count the home care services of such an institution.
Industrial use is another in which the red working houses
down by the river and the white painted director's residence
on the mountain visually express the exploitation: Through
such institutions, classes and class differences have been
produced and reproduced in the country.
It is a little different with the larger industrial
plants, because they usually have foreign owners and a board
that, through decisions in Stockholm or Paris, has put both
workers, managers, engineers and managers in a form of the
same boat. The mining communities, the oldest industrialized
workplaces in Norway, have also been subject to a distant
owner, who everyone in the work works for - or against. The
fishing villages, on the other hand, are more like the
homemaker institution, and must be regarded as a genuine
Norwegian class institution, where one benefits the other
Across the labor-capital divide we find self-ownership
production: the farms and small businesses that produce
partly for the local environment and partly for the larger
markets. There is no direct exchange between the smallholder
and the big farmer, and therefore no real class distinction,
because the loan schemes in agriculture - the mortgage debt
- are public and not privately regulated and managed.
Yet both a social divide and a set of economic
differences of interest exist between the two groups. For
example, they traditionally have different opinions on the
customs issue: Sales production is dependent on customs
protection, self-supply production of cheap import goods.
The organizational division of small farmers and (large)
farmers after this rupture took place around the turn of the
century. It has continued to this day.
In summary, the class structure in Norway can be said to
differ from other countries:
- by a weak upper class, which plays more the role of
foreign capital intermediary than the actual capital and
- in a large agricultural sector which, in many
branches and combinations, intersects the traditionally
European social map,
- in an industrial working class which, despite these
structural differences, is astonishingly "normal" in
comparison to other European countries.