For the first time in Norwegian history, four Members of Parliament from the Labour Party say they plan to propose a thorough review of how Norway is ruled and how much power the head of state, currently King Harald, should have. The proposal could ultimately convert Norway from a monarchy to a republic.
The four Labour MPs – Truls Wickholm and Marianne Marthinsen from Oslo, Eirin Sund from Rogaland and Jette F Christensen from Egersund – told website TV2.no that they want to carefully evaluate what type of head of state Norway should have. They want to study how a head of state should be elected, how long his or her term of office should be and various other aspects of a role that would replace Norway’s current monarch with a president.
Their proposal comes on the very day King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon were due to ceremoniously opening the 157th session of Norway’s Parliament (Stortinget), when the monarch appears in full regalia and reads the government’s plans for the year aloud.
The current government remains the left-center coalition elected first in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. It consists of the small Center Party and Socialist Left party (SV) and is led by Labour, which until now has supported the monarchy and refused to go along with SV’s recurring calls to turn Norway into a republic.
This is thus the first time SV has received support for its pro-republic standpoint, but it’s far from certain whether the four Labour MPs have sufficient support within their own party. They think, though, that it’s time Norwegians seriously consider whether a constitutional monarchy is the best form of government for an egalitarian-minded, social welfare state like Norway.
“We have been so consumed by our traditions that everyone buys Se og Hør (a leading celebrity magazine that frequently features the royal family) with all its pictures of the royals and everyone thinks that’s so nice,” Wickholm told TV2.no. “Folks forget that this is all about how the country is run, who is the head of state and who should have the right to represent Norway at the United Nations and at other international organizations.”
MP Eirin Sund stressed that their proposal isn’t necessarily anti-royal. “The tone of this proposal is different than earlier ones,” she told TV2.no. “Before, it’s been proposed that the king should be put out on the street, period. Now we’re looking at the various issues involved and want an examination and broad debate to find out how we could best put forth a republic.”
An earlier call went out last summer for Crown Prince Haakon, when faced with succeeding his father as king, to ask for a referendum on the succession. That, critics argued, would give a clear signal as to whether the royal succession and continuance of the monarchy had public support.
Any formal proposal to actually end the monarchy and replace it with a republic would require a change to the constitution, which in turn requires a vote in favour by at least two-thirds of the members of parliament.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Please support our news service. Readers in Norway can use our donor account. Our international readers can click on our “Donate” button: