Norway – Absolute Independence after 1905

By | December 17, 2021

The dissolution of the Union, recognized as necessary, had been accomplished with the support of all the political parties: however there was disagreement in the choice between the monarchy or the republic. The right and most of the left declared themselves in favor of the monarchy. The collaboration between these groups continued for a few more years, even after 1905; but soon new contrasts arose. After the consolidation of the left (1907-08) the more moderate elements broke away, reuniting in their own party, the liberal left (1909), which remained in close collaboration with the right until 1927. The extreme left is now made up of the party Norwegian worker who from 1905 onwards grew to the point of becoming the strongest political party in the country. A communist party adhering to the third international had representatives in the Storting from 1923 to 1930, but lost them in the elections of 1933. The peasants’ party formed in 1920 instead became the fourth major political party. In 1910-12 the united liberal right and left had the majority of the Storting. In 1913-18 the. the left occasionally had a strong majority, but subsequently no single party had half the seats for itself, so that the government always had to seek support from one or more other parties for the resolution of some particular issue. Attempts to form a party union government (1919-26) were unsuccessful. For Norway government and politics, please check

The left held power longer after 1912, with brief interruptions of right-wing ministries (1920-21, 1923-24, 1926-27) and a ministry of peasants (1931-33); but these too had to follow the policy established by the radical majority of the Storting on the whole. A workers’ party government (January 1928) was quickly overthrown. Under the left ministries of Gunnar Knudsen and Johan Ludvig Mowinckel, the Storting introduced a series of moderate radical social and economic reforms. With the rigorous legislation of concessions, an attempt was made to prevent foreign companies with large capital from exploiting the Norwegian natural riches, waterfalls, mines, forests. With the prohibition of the import and sale of alcoholic drinks (later abolished), an attempt was made to impose a regime of sobriety. Insurance against sickness, accidents, disability and unemployment has been established. Economic development was very intense after 1905, especially enormous during the World War. Large industries had a huge increase (production of nitrogen, aluminum, cellulose, paper, etc.); the commercial fleet grew and modernized; the freight rates collected after the war exceeded 1500 million crowns. This huge and rapid industrial progress turned large masses of workers away from agriculture and hastened the radicalism of the lower class to a far greater extent than in the other Nordic countries. In the prosperous years during and immediately after the World War, the workers, with the help of their strong trade union organizations, managed to raise wages and decrease working hours, significantly improving the standard of living. When prosperity stopped in 1921, the defense of the advantages already obtained led to extensive workers’ conflicts. The latest economic crisis, which began in autumn 1929, also hit Norway, but less severely than the large industrial countries, as the Norwegian economy is very diverse and needs relatively small. The financial position of the municipalities is however very difficult due to the debts incurred during the inflation, and due to the lack of taxable assets, although the taxes are very high.

After 1905 the young nation followed a prudent foreign policy. In agreement with Sweden and Denmark, Norway stayed out of the world war; however, it was damaged in many ways, especially from 1917 onwards, due to the submarine warfare. During a couple of years she also suffered from supply difficulties, and was forced to undergo rigorous rationing of fuels and edibles. In 1925 Svalbard, where Norway had strong mining interests, were united with Norway, as well as the island of the Bears, in 1928 the island of Bouvet, and the island of Peter I in the Southern Ocean (base of the Norwegian interests in whale fishing in that region) and Jan Mayen in 1929. The growing Norwegian activity in the Ocean led to the Norwegian occupation of part of eastern Greenland, resulting in Denmark’s appeal to the court in The Hague. With the 1933 ruling, the Norwegian occupation was not recognized

In the autumn 1933 Storting elections, the workers ‘party had 69 representatives, the right 30, the left 24, the farmers’ party 23, and four other small parties 4 representatives in all. The current ministry (November 1934) comes from the left party: Prime Minister JL Mowinckel.

Norway - Absolute Independence after 1905