Liberal Party of Norway
Infobox Norwegian political party
party_articletitle = Liberal Party of Norway
party_name = "Venstre"
Liberal Party of Norway
name_native = Venstre
colorcode = #47b539
foundation = 1884
European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
website = [http://www.venstre.no/ Venstre]
The Liberal Party of Norway ( _no. Venstre, V, meaning "left") is a social liberal
political partyin Norway. It is the oldest political partyin the country, founded in 1884. From 1996 the party has been led by Lars Sponheim, while the vice-presidents are Ola Elvestuenand Trine Skei Grande. In the 2005 elections, Venstre won 5,9% of the votes, and 10 seats in Stortinget. Internationally, Venstre is a member of the Liberal Internationaland the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party.
Venstre is a social liberal and
centristparty. Through its history it has taken part in both center-right and pure centrist coalition governments. From 2001 to 2005, it was in a centre-right coalition government with Høyreand Kristelig Folkeparti, after the last election, it is now in opposition. Since the early 1970s, environmental issues have been the policy area most associated with the party. In the last few election campaigns, Venstre's main focus has been on environmental issues, education, small-business and social issues. The party advocates a reform of the Norwegian welfare statethrough a guaranteed minimum income(Borgerlønn) for all citizens. Some other issues Venstre advocate are increased labour immigration, abolition of the Church of Norwayas the State church, an approach to a system of Flat taxwith deductions and more power to local authorities (kommuner.) At the national convention in 2005, Venstre decided with a margin of only five votes to still be opposed to Norway joining the European Union. It prefers continued membership in the European Economic Area. In 2007, Venstre became the first Norwegian party to advocate legal file sharing. [cite web |url=http://www.uv.no/politics/translated-items/culture-wants-to-be-free?set_language=en |title=Culture wants to be free! |accessdate=2007-04-16] [cite web |url=http://www.venstre.no/artikkel/2780/ |title=Slipp kulturen fri! (Norwegian original resolution) |accessdate=2007-04-17]
The liberal policies of Venstre include finding pluralism in the large society, and fighting for acceptance and value amid the Norwegian people, in spite of their cultural, ethnic or social backgrounds. Venstre's goal is to have a society where redundant problems in the hunt for liberty and originality are removed, and where democratic organs determine how their common resources are put to use.
The party Venstre was formed in 1884 in connection with the dispute about whether or not to introduce
parliamentarismin Norway. Venstre (which means Left in Norwegian) was the party advocating parliamentarism, whereas the conservatives, who opposed parliamentarism, formed the party Høyre(which means Right). When the fight for parliamentarism was won, Venstre's leader Johan Sverdrupbecame the first Norwegian prime minister to be appointed on the basis of having the support of a majority in the Storting. Later, Venstre advocated universal suffragefor men, which was achieved in 1898, the break-up of the Swedish-Norwegian Union, which happened in 1905, and universal women's suffrage, which was introduced in 1913. In the first decades after 1884, Venstre formed several governments, interspersed with periods of Høyre-governments. Six different Prime Ministers of Norway have come from Venstre, all of them before 1935. With the growth of Arbeiderpartiet(the labour party), Venstre gradually lost ground. The election of 1915 was the last in which Venstre was the largest party and won an outright majority in the Storting. Venstre was further weakened with the formation of Bondepartiet(the farmers' party, the present day Senterpartiet) in 1920, and Kristelig Folkeparti(Christian peoples' party) in 1933, both of which were formed partly by former Venstre-members. After World War II, Venstre has been part of four coalition governments, the most recent one being the second government of Kjell Magne Bondevikfrom 2001 to 2005.
A dispute over Norwegian membership in the
European Community, now the European Union, made the party split up at Rørosin 1972, with the people favoring EC membership departing, and forming Det Liberale Folkepartiet ("The Liberal People's Party"). These included the party leader, "Helge Seip", and 9 of the 13 members of parliament. Since then, Venstre has been a fairly small party. The parliamentary group was reduced to two after the 1973 election.
In 1974, Venstre elected the first female leader of a political party in Norway,
Election results continued to be poor for Venstre. Before the 1985 elections, the party announced for the first, and so far only, time that they would support a Labour Party government. At the following election they lost their two remaining seats, and were without representation in the Norwegian Parliament for the first time. In 1988, Venstre was re-united with the splinter party from 1972, now calling itself Det Liberale Folkepartiet (the Liberal People's Party), but at the elections of 1989, the re-united party again failed to win parliamentary seats. In 1993 the party again failed to achieve the 4% threshold which would make them eligible for the "equalizing" seats in parliament, but
Lars Sponheimwas elected directly from Hordalandcounty. (Before the election, Sponheim had made the wager that he would walk across the mountains from his home in Ulvikto the parliament in capital city Osloif elected—a wager he delivered on, to much good-humoured interest from the press.)
In 1997, Venstre passed the 4% threshold, increasing their seats in parliament to six. As a consequence Venstre also saw their first participation in cabinet since 1973. The party held four seats in the minority first government of
Kjell Magne Bondevik. Lars Sponheim became minister of industry and commerce, Odd Einar Dørum; minister of communications, later minister of justice, Guro Fjellanger; minister of environmental protection, and Eldbjørg Løwer; minister of administration, later minister of defense. Mrs. Løwer was the first female minister of defense in Norway. This cabinet resigned in 2000, refusing to accept the Storting's decicion to build gas power plants. In 2001, Venstre narrowly failed to reach the 4% threshold, but got two representatives elected, Sponheim and Odd Einar Dørum. However, due to Venstre becoming part of the second coalition government of Kjell Magne Bondevik, with Sponheim and Dørum entering the cabinet, the two were represented in parliament by deputies. The party also got a third member of the cabinet, with the appointment of Torild Skogsholmas Minister of Transport and Communications.
The 2005 elections gave Venstre 5.9% of the vote, their best result since the 1969 elections. Venstre won 6 seats directly, and an additional 4 seats through the 4%+ equalizing system. Due to the majority of the Red-Green Coalition, Venstre are now an opposition party, and looks set to remain so until the 2009 elections.
Name of the party
While the name of the party means "Left" in Norwegian, the party refers to itself as a centrist party. Since the
Senterpartiet("The Centre Party") is a component of the governing left alliance, and "Venstre" is part of the "non-socialist" opposition, a situation has been produced where the "centre" party is more on the left than "Left" itself. When the name "Left" was chosen in 1884, the word did not refer to socialism in the way "Left wing" does today. It meant "liberal" or "radical" in comparison to the "conservatives" on the right, and referred to the position of the seats in Parliament. The use of the word for "left" in the names of the Danish political parties "Venstre" and "Radikale Venstre" is also meant to refer to Liberalismand not Socialism.
The term originates from the
French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estategenerally sat to the left of the president's chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right.
Ole Anton Qvam
*1894-1896 Ole Anton Qvam
*1898-1900 Viggo Ullmann
Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
Jacob S. Worm-Müller
Hans Hammond Rosbach
Odd Einar Dørum
Odd Einar Dørum
Prime ministers from Venstre
Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
Johan Ludwig Mowinckel
Election results, parliamentary elections 1906-2005
Contributions to liberal theory
List of liberal parties
Liberalism in Norway
* [http://www.venstre.no/ Venstre] official site (in Norwegian)
* [http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/innenriks/valg/val_2007/resultat/?type=parti&id=v#valresultat Election results for Venstre in the 2007 local elections]
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