Ken Larsen's website - Comparison of politics in Norway to the U.S.


This is a few differences between Norway and the U.S. with regard to how politics is handled.  Norway has 5 million residents, and approximately 60,000 babies are born each year.  Norway consists of 19 counties.



U.S. Norway
Political advertising TV and print ads are allowed TV and radio advertising is not permitted.

Politicians in Norway never do personal campaigning.  It is the parties that do the campaigning.  Organizations do donate money to parties, but it is open as to who does and how much.

The largest Labor Organization LO) gives money to Labor Party and parties that are in cooperations with Labor Party.  Farmer organizations give money to a party that formerly had the name Farmers Party, now Center Party.  Some business organizations and rich people give money to right wing parties.

What makes it  easy to control is the fact that parties covering 99% of the voters support our “Welfare State”.  In fact, no one questioned “The Welfare State”, so the political differences are in reality small.

# of parties

There are 169 seats in Parliament.  The parties in order of size as of May 2016 are:

Labor Party:  55 seats (32.5%)
Conservative Party:  48 seats (28.4%)
Progress Party:  29 (17.2%)
Centre Party: 10 (5.9%)
Christian Democratic Party:  10 (5.9%)
Liberal Party:  9 (5.3%)
Social Left Party:  7 (4.1%)
Green Party:  1 (0.06%)

New parties that want to be represented in the Parliament have to gather a number of subscribers to  get registered.  Before the election the parties put up lists in each county with the number of representatives each county are entitled to elect to Parliament.  Each party normally distribute pamphlets focusing on their political priorities.  The last 2 months before an election our two national TV-stations and our national radio channel set of discussions for about 10 of the largest parties.  Parties with less than 1% of the voters in the last election  are not invited.  There are a few such parties.  A party needs 4% of the votes to be represented.  13 parties are registered for election to Parliament. At present 8 are represented. 

In local election even foreigners that have lived in the country for 5 years, can vote.  It is quite easy to register a party for local election, therefore there are lost of local parties at local elections, but also the 8 parties represented in the Parliament gets most of the votes even in local elections.

Political districts A party in charge often uses "gerrymandering" to draw districts to increase the likelihood that they remain in power. Has 19 counties, and 432 communities.  The island of Utsira is the smallest community with just 218 residents.  The largest county is Oslo with 650,000 resident.  The smallest is Finnmark with 75,000.
Eligibility Picture id needed

At birth, a Norwegian gets an 11 digit number which is akin to the U.S.'s social security number. Foreigners have to acquire one of these numbers if they wish to work in Norway.  When you are past 18 years, you can show up on the voting day and vote.  Three months before each election the Government issues a voting card to every voter.  You have to have a citizenship card to vote at Parliament election.

Voter turnout Pathetically low.  In the 2015 local election in my town of Chapel Hill, only 14% of registered voters bothered to vote.  Such apathy makes it easy for special interests to control who gets elected.  Impressively high ... at least 55% in local elections and occasionally 80% or more in national elections.  Norwegians should be proud.
Taxes Historically, the U.S. has been like Norway currently is.  However, Republicans are pressing for a "flat rate" tax where everyone's income is taxed at exactly the same percentage. 

Tax are highly dependent on income.  If you earn a lot, you may pay as much as 80% of your income in tax.  A senior citizen might pay 30% of his income in tax.

Education Free until a child graduates from high school. In Norway, education until university level are free.  Every child can attend kinder garden at a very low rate You only pay for books and your housing.

Norway has a special bank for education that give loans to university students at a reasonable rate and payback.

Healthcare You must pay for health insurance; otherwise, you don't have it.

Health care is free except for tooth care.  People at work keep their income for two years if they get sick.  If they are unable to get back to work, they get 70% of their income for the rest of their life.   A mother or a father can stay home with a newborn child until the child is 1 year. The father has to stay home at least 1/3 of the year.


US foreign policy over the the last 25 years has caused an immigration problem in Europe.   The U.S. removed Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam in Iraq,  Gadhafi in Libya, and gave bin Laden weapons to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.  This created instability in the MidEast and caused many citizens of those areas to flee to Europe ... where they don't assimilate well because of cultural and language differences.

Immigration of people from Syria, Asia, and Africa is Europe's biggest current political problem. One million people migrated to Europe in 2015.  Of those, 30,000 went to Norway which was triple their normal rate.  These immigrants are causing social upheaval, because they don't speak Norwegian, and they become a social burden for years.

The Progressive Party, now in the ruling government, has for 30 years tried to reduce immigration.  Because of the high number last years, most parties now agree to be more restrictive.


There are a lot of guns among Norwegians.  To get a shot gun you have to have a permit.  Who has a gun is in public registers. The guns have to be kept in public approve locked depot.

To get a pistol you have to be member in a sports organization that competes in pistol shooting.

The serious problem are guns owned by criminals.  Until now the police in Norway has been unarmed.  I believe this situation also reduces the risk for criminals using weapons.  Weapon use by criminals has increased during the last 25 years.  Especially after the collapse of Soviet Union, and we got a lot of criminals from East Europe.

The Police Organizations want to be armed, but so far the Parliament has said NO.   I hope Parliament will do so in the future.  It will be a letdown if the police are armed!


Ken's comments:


  1. I prefer Norway's multiplicity of parties.   The U.S.'s two party system makes it too easy for one party to obstruct the other ... as the Republicans have done during Obama's eight years of presidency.  Virtually nothing got done.

  2. I prefer Norway's system for political advertising.  In the U.S. campaigning for the presidency begins way too early ... as much as two years prior to an election.  Also, the cost in the U.S. is horrendous.  Only the extremely wealthy can afford to run.

  3. The U.S. has become an oligarchy.  That's where the wealthy control all of politics.  The poor people vote in very low numbers and are extremely gullible to the heavy advertising of the wealthiest candidates.


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