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Norway Modern History

During World War II, Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany. The difficult experiences of the war contributed to Norway joining NATO in 1949. The question of joining the EC (later the EU) became controversial and in two referendums the Norwegians have refused to join. Since the 1970s, oil and natural gas extraction has gradually transformed Norway from a fishing and smallholder nation to one of the world's richest countries.

Norway declared itself neutral in the outbreak of World War II in 1939. However, both Germany and the Western powers had plans to occupy parts of the country to gain control of the ore transport from Narvik's port. The Germans first invaded and invaded both Denmark and Norway on April 9, 1940.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Norway. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

While the Danes left without a fight, the Norwegian government, with King Haakon and Prime Minister Johan Nygaarsvold, decided to defend the country despite an almost hopeless military starting position. The aid from the West was insufficient and the Norwegians were soon forced to surrender. On June 1 of that year, the state leadership left Norway and settled in London.

Nazi occupation

An administrative council ruled the country until September 1940, when the German National Commissioner Terboven declared the king deposed. He dissolved the council and appointed 13 "commissary ministers". From 1942, they formed a Nazi sound government under Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the Norwegian National Socialist Party National Assembly.

Contemporary History of NorwayHowever, the Norwegian people resisted. A resistance movement, the home front, was formed and carried out, among other things, industrial sabotage. As a result, the Germans tightened the occupation policy. About 500 Norwegians were executed by the Germans, about 1,500 died in prisons, while around 40,000 were sent to concentration camps in various rounds and over 35,000 Norwegians fled to Sweden. The Nazi repression helped to weld the government of London and the resistance movement in Norway. The Germans in Norway surrendered on May 7, 1945, the king and the ministers returned home a month later and a unifying government was formed.

After the end of the war, about 46,000 people were convicted of treason and about 18,000 of them received prison sentences. Thirty death sentences were issued over German and Norwegian war criminals, of which 25 were executed. One of the executed was Vidkun Quisling.

The EC / EU issue divides the country

In the fall of 1945, the Labor Party for the first time gained its own majority in the parliament and formed a government under Einar Gerharden's leadership. In 1949, Norway joined the Atlantic Pact (NATO) and became a member of the Nordic Council in 1952. Seven years later, Norway joined and founded the free trade organization Efta.

In the post-war years, domestic policy was dominated by the question of how the country's economic growth would be distributed. The issue of membership of the EC (the European Community, now the EU) was also conflicted. After the UK had decided to apply for EC membership, Norway also began to prepare for EC accession. However, there was considerable disagreement about the form of connection. Center Party Per Borten's coalition government, which took office in 1965, split on the issue and was forced to resign in 1971.

The Labor Party took over under Prime Minister Tryggve Bratteli but did not gain the people's confidence in their EC-friendly policy. In the 1972 referendum, 54 percent said no to Norwegian EC membership. The debate was exhausting and the divide deep. The EC resistance was strongest in the north and was supported by farmers, fishermen and large trade union groups, while supporters dominated in the Oslo area.

The crack went straight through several lots. Left's EC supporters broke out and formed the Liberal People's Party, while the Labor Party government resigned after the vote and was succeeded by a bourgeois coalition government.

Oil boom - and oil crisis

The Labor Party returned after the parliamentary elections in 1973 and ruled the decade out. In 1981, Prime Minister Odvar Nordli was succeeded by Gro Harlem Brundtland, who became Norway and the Nordic region's first female head of government. However, in the election that year, Høyre won great success and was able to form a coalition government with Kåre Willoch as prime minister.

When Norway began extracting oil from the North Sea in the 1970s, politicians intended to use the proceeds for investment. But the new wealth aroused people's expectations and the government increased state spending through social reforms, sparsely populated and agricultural support, and employment measures.

After a number of good years with high domestic consumption, oil prices dropped significantly in the mid-1980s. When income fell rapidly, the government was forced to implement a number of measures: the krona was devalued and a austerity policy was introduced. Unemployment soared at the same time as a major banking crisis ensued. In 1986, the government's austerity package was rejected by the parliament and Kåre Willoch's coalition was allowed to resign. A minority government under the Labor Party leader Brundtland took over the helm.

After the 1989 elections, a bourgeois government coalition was again formed. However, it fell apart the following year due to disagreement over Norway's line in the negotiations with the EC on an EEA agreement (which would give the EFTA countries access to the EC internal market). Brundtland took over the prime minister's post at the head of a social democratic minority government.

Criticism against Stoltenberg's government

In 1992, the Storting approved Norway's accession to the EEA Agreement and the same year decided that the country should apply for membership of the EC / EU. As a result, the Center Party achieved great success in the 1993 parliamentary elections through its EU opposition. In the 1994 referendum, 53 percent of Norwegians said no to EU membership. Despite the defeat of the Yes side, Brundtland ruled on but she resigned for personal reasons in 1996. New Prime Minister became Thorbjørn Jagland, who has been the leader of the Labor Party for a few years.

Despite an economic upturn from 1993 with strong growth for several years, the 1997 parliamentary election was a disappointment for the Labor Party. Before the election, Jagland promised to surrender the government power if the party got worse results than 1993. So it was, despite the fact that the Labor Party was still the largest with about 35 percent of the vote. The Christian People's Party, on the other hand, was strong in the elections and could form a minority government together with the other two central parties Venstre and the Center Party.

The Prime Minister became the Christian Democratic Party leader Kjell Magne Bondevik. He and the government resigned in 2000 after the government coalition was voted down in the parliament by the Labor Party, the Progress Party and the Right. These, contrary to the government's plans, wanted to build gas power plants without waiting for new environmentally friendly technology.

With the popular Jens Stoltenberg as prime minister and the party leader Jagland as foreign minister, the Labor Party formed its own minority government. The problems soon settled. LO strikes and wage increases were followed by unpopular budget cuts. The Nationalist and Immigration Critical Progress Party took advantage of the general dissatisfaction and demanded more oil money for health care, schooling and care. In the opinion, the party occasionally spoke about the Labor Party, whose leaders received internal criticism for their EU-friendly attitude, for the plans for partial privatization of both the oil industry and health care and for its tax policy.

Norway receives a red-green government

In the 2001 parliamentary election, the Labor Party made its worst result in nearly eight decades. The election's big winner became the Høyre and the Socialist Left Party, a result that made it difficult to form government. Kjell Magne Bondevik negotiated a minority government with his own Christian People's Party as well as Høyre and Venstre. It became dependent on the Progress Party's support and forced a number of compromises.

The Labor Party, in turn, suffered from internal contradictions. In 2002, Thorbjørn Jagland resigned as party leader in favor of Stoltenberg, which gave the party success in public opinion. The Socialist Left Party also strengthened its stance with harsh criticism of the US-led Iraq war in 2003. On the other extreme, the Progress Party emerged.

In the 2005 parliamentary election, the Labor Party won a convincing victory with 33 percent of the vote compared to 24 percent in the previous election. It laid the groundwork for a red-green majority, despite the Socialist Left Party backing some, while the Center Party increased slightly. The Progress Party became Norway's second largest party with 22 percent of the vote, while Høyre and Prime Minister Bondevik's Christian People's Party declined sharply.

Thus, Stoltenberg was able to form Norway's first red-green coalition with the Labor Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Center Party. There was relative consensus on welfare policy, but on several issues there were contradictions that weakened the coalition. At the same time, the opposition was successful in public opinion, especially the Progress Party. Some analysts felt that the party's critical attitude towards immigration influenced the other parties to get a tighter stance in asylum policy.

In the parliamentary elections in September 2009, the government coalition between the Labor Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Center Party Party got overweight and could rule further. The government was praised for its solid way of managing the country through the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 (see Finance).

The worst massacre of modern times

On July 22, 2011, the Norwegian nation was shaken by the worst acts of violence in modern times. Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik murdered eight people in a blast attack in the Oslo government district and shot almost two hours later to the death of 77 people, the majority of teenagers, on the island of Utøya where the Labor Party's youth union had gathered for traditional summer camps. Breivik, a former member of the Progress Party, wished to hurt the Labor Party, which he believed had failed Norway through "mass imports of Muslims".

Stoltenberg immediately explained that Norway's response to the violence would be more openness, more democracy and more humanity. The political youth unions received a stream of new members. Stoltenberg was acclaimed for showing both solidity and compassion in crisis management.

Shortly after the massacre, the Labor Party received its highest opinion support in twelve years, while the Progress Party backed down. In local elections in September 2011, the Progress Party lost more than a third of its voters, while Høyre went ahead strongly. The Labor Party remained the largest party.

The shock and grief after the terrorist attacks reinforced the sense of community in Norwegian society. The prosecutor's detailed description of the massacre at Utøya in combination with Breivik's chilly behavior made the trial in spring 2012 painful for those affected. Breivik was sentenced in August of that year to the most severe sentence of the law - 21 years in prison with the possibility of extension five years at a time as long as the convicted person is considered a danger to society.

A government-appointed investigation into the police's handling of the violence in Oslo and Utøya was published in August 2012. It pointed to a number of shortcomings. The police could have arrested the perpetrator earlier, and the attack in the government district could have been prevented if already existing security regulations had been followed. As a result of the sharp criticism, the country's highest police chief resigned.

 
 

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