Presidents and Prime Ministers

By Richard Rose; Ezra N. Suleiman | Go to book overview

6
Governing Norway:
Segmentation, Anticipation, and
Consensus Formation

Johan P. Olsen

The Norwegian Constitution of 1814 was written in the spirit of Montesquieu. Functions and powers were separated. The king was given executive leadership, with the right to select his advisers, the Cabinet, and to appoint his servants, the administrators. The introduction of parliamentary government in 1884 gradually converted the Cabinet into an executive committee of the Storting (parliament) and the king into a ceremonial leader. All power was to be assembled in the hall of the Storting. Since the executive derived its authority from the representatives of the people, it was to be dependent in large part on national elections and on laws, budgets, and other instructions from the Storting. Transactions with the administrators and those affected by governmental interventions would be dominated by legal- rational authority.

The concept of a parliamentary chain of governance has been-- and is--the prevailing interpretation of executive leadership in Norway. But there are alternatives. Interpretations oscillate between theories that assume the fate of the nation is decided by a powerful executive elite and the view that executive leaders are the prisoners of and bookkeepers for broad technological, economic, demographic,

____________________
NOTE: The author has benefited from the advice, comments, and help from several friends and colleagues. I want to thank the editors Richard Rose and Ezra Suleiman, and the other participants in the Ross Priory Conference on Organizing Political Leadership: Carlos Alba, Colin Campbell, Sabino Cassese, John Helmer, Sheila Mann, Thomas Mann, Renate Mayntz, Richard Neustadt, and Lord Trend. Thanks go also to the participants in the 1979 International Political Science Association World Congress on Political Administration in Moscow, where a version of this chapter was presented, and to Morten Egeberg, Per Laegreid, James G. March, Paul G. Roness, Harald Saetren, Reidun Tvedt, Mariann Vågenes, and Berit Wagtskjold for their help and support. Finally, I want to thank the Norwegian Council for Research and Societal Planning, which has financed the project.

-203-

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