Publikation Soziale Bewegungen / Organisierung Towards a left government? Left socialist parties in Norway





Januar 2004


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1. Introduction

At first sight, the party systems of Norway and Denmark are very similar to one another. In both countries, the social-democratic party had assumed a hegemonic role in the post-war period. In both countries, this hegemony was shattered in the 1980s by attempts to push through neo-liberal concepts. In the first half of the 1990s, Danish social democracy as well as its Norwegian sister party (DNA, Den Norske Arbeiderparti) again came into governmental responsibility. Although both parties officially didn’t agree to the rhetoric of Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, similarities to New Labour were unmistakable in their polity. Until the end of the 1990s the doctrine of the European “stability pact” was in effect in both countries – rigorous fiscal policy, low interest and inflation rates, stable course of exchange – and was followed by a successive dismantling of social citizenship. Up to ca. 1998, both governments seemed to be comparatively successful in integrating the trade unions into a new social consensus. Most explicitly, this held for Norway, where the tripartite “Solidarity Alternative” united trade union association, employers’ union and government and constituted one of the few examples of an effective incomes policy. But despite the excellent macro-economic balance sheet that the governments of the two countries could present in the second half of the 1990s, the dissatisfaction with their policies grew. Around the turn of the century, large strike movements occurred in the private sector, both in Denmark (1999) and Norway (2000). In the first years of the 21. century, voters ran away from the SP in Denmark and the DNA in Norway in droves. One of the reasons was that during the boom of the 1990s a redistribution had occurred, of which the entrepreneurs and stockholders had only been able to dream even during the, from their point of view, “golden” 1980s. Ironically, bourgeois minority governments took over in both countries, while left socialist parties were more or less unable to gain from the failure of the “stability pact”. At the same time, right populist movements became more and more influential, first in the public discourse, and later in governmental practice as well. ...

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