Liberal Participation in Norway’s Minority Government
The liberal party Venstre has been part of the governing coalition of conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg since this month. The Norwegian Liberals joined the cabinet consisting of the Conservatives and the anti-immigration “Progress Party” after two weeks of negotiations. Still, the governing coalition constitutes a minority government dependent on the support of the Christian Democrats, who have so far opposed joining a coalition with the populist Progress Party.
Norway has a long-lasting tradition when it comes to minority governments. This is due to the large number of parties represented in parliament – currently; there are nine parties in the Storting – which renders the formation of a majority government with less than four parties impossible. For the Liberals, however, government participation offers a chance to implement their primary concerns included in the coalition contract, such as the ban on oil drilling in the Arctic until 2021, the gradual closure of fur farms until 2025, the admission of additional refugees and the modernization of parental leave policies. In accordance with these topics, Venstre will hold three ministries (Education, Environment and Culture) with two female and one male minister, among them the Party-Chairwoman Trine Skei Grande as Minister of Culture.
The Liberals’ accession to the coalition is also beneficial for the other two ruling parties. As of now, negotiations on new legislation will be easier since only one supporting parliamentary party has to be found and not two as was the case before the joining of Venstre. Nevertheless, risks, too, can develop out of this situation. There is a high risk of defeat for the ruling coalition, especially when it comes to policies surrounding the expansion of social benefits where the Centre-left and Christian Democrats seem to align.
Venstre is Norway’s oldest party, founded in 1884. Since the Parliamentary Elections in 2017, Venstre has 8 deputies in the 169-member-Storting.