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Norway : Elites on Trial (Nations of the Modern World: Europe)

Norway : Elites on Trial (Nations of the Modern World: Europe)

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A discussion of the political system of Norway focusing on political parties, democracy and accountability in one of the richest countries in the world that still is anchored in an egalitarian culture with a strong local base and facing the challenge of a dynamic Europeization process.

Politics in Norway shares many characteristics with other smaller West European countries, in particular its Scandinavian neighbors: It is a stable parliamentary, multi-party system with a strong social-democratic tradition. But Norwegian politics has its own profile which is brought out by three central and persistent themes in Norwegian politics: Norway is a small and young state in the European periphery, its politics operates within an egalitarian social structure and it is marked by the political strength of the periphery.

Politics in Norway shares many characteristics with other smaller West European countries, in particular its Scandinavian neighbors: It is a stable parliamentary, multi-party system with a strong social-democratic tradition. But Norwegian politics has its own profile which is brought out by three central and persistent themes in Norwegian politics: Norway is a small and young state in the European periphery, its politics operates within an egalitarian social structure and it is marked by the political strength of the periphery. The old project of nation-building-so eagerly pursued in Norway through the 19th and most of the 20th century-is in the post Cold War era mainly challenged from the outside.

In spite of fashionable arguments about "globalization", "Americanization" and the "communication revolution" this has not primarily been manifested in the economic and cultural fields. The major challenge has been political and presented by the dynamism of the European Union. The EU has forced politicians and voters alike to reconsider the very foundation of the Norwegian nation state. The "national question" today is not about secession, rebellion and multi-national state building-like in 19th century Europe. It is about building viable political, economic and cultural arrangements to sustain democracy, prosperity and a "Norwegian" way of life inside the new "European House", but so far outside the EU itself.