Democracy and Welfare Society

Elections and political parties


Political elections are held every other year in Norway. This alternates between general elections and local elections (county council and municipal elections). In other words, parliamentary elections are held every four year, as are county council and city council elections.

I avlukket En dame som stemmer ved valg

The political parties establish a platform during their party conferences. They describe which issues they want to focus on during the upcoming election period, i.e. the next four years.

Elections in Norway take place by secret ballot. This means that no one knows which party you have voted for. You decide which party gets your vote and it is not uncommon for family members to vote for completely different parties.

Political parties

There are many different political parties in Norway and, when there is an election, many alternatives from which to choose. There are about 20 different parties in Norway.

Roughly speaking, the largest parties can be placed on a scale from “socialist” to “non-socialist” as follows: Rødt SV Ap SP KrF Venstre Høyre FrP

Formal and informal power

The Storting adopts and amend laws and budgets. That gives the Storting formal power to influence national and local policies. In addition, many others have what we call informal power. By that we mean that they influence policies in different ways.

The media
The Norwegian media (radio, television, websites, newspapers etc.) are free. That means that they can publish the information they want to, regardless of which political party is in power. But even the media have to respect the limits of freedom of speech. The media are very influential. We say that the media set the agenda and act as a watchdog when something is wrong. In this way, they influence both ordinary viewers/readers/listeners and the politicians.

Special interest organisations
Norway has freedom of assembly. Among other things, this means that people are free to form and join different special interest organisations.

Examples of such organisations are:

  • organisations for people with various functional impairments and diseases
  • women’s rights organisations
  • children’s rights organisations
  • environmental and nature conservation organisations
  • organisations that campaign for different issues at the municipal level

Like the media, such organisations can be highly influential. They influence both ordinary viewers/readers/listeners and the politicians. Lobbyism is the term used to describe persons or groups that attempt to influence politicians and their decisions in an informal manner.


Right to vote

  • The voting age in Norway is 18.
  • To vote in a general election, you must be a Norwegian citizen.
  • To vote in a county council or city council election, you must have lived in Norway for three years before the election.