Christian Democratic Party (Norway)

The Christian Democratic Party (Bokmål: Kristelig Folkeparti, Nynorsk: Kristeleg Folkeparti, Northern Sami: Risttalaš Álbmotbellodat, lit.'Christian People's Party', KrF), is a Christian-democratic[5][6][7][8] political party in Norway founded in 1933. The party is an observer member of the European People's Party (EPP). It currently holds three seats in the Parliament, having won 3.8% of the vote in the 2021 parliamentary election. The leader of the party is Kjell Ingolf Ropstad.

Christian People's Party
Kristelig Folkeparti
AbbreviationKrF
LeaderKjell Ingolf Ropstad[1]
Parliamentary leaderHans Fredrik Grøvan
Founded4 September 1933
HeadquartersØvre Slottsgate 18–20
0154 Oslo
Youth wingYoung Christian Democrats
Membership (2019)Decrease 19,952[2]
Ideology
Political positionCentre to centre-right
European affiliationEuropean People's Party (observer)
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
Nordic affiliationCentre Group
Colours  Red
  Cream
Storting
3 / 169
County Councils[3]
46 / 728
Municipal / City Councils[4]
621 / 10,781
Sami Parliament
0 / 39
Website
www.krf.no

The Christian Democrats' leader from 1983 to 1995, Kjell Magne Bondevik, was one of the most prominent political figures in modern Norway, serving as Prime Minister from 1997 to 2000 and 2001 to 2005. Under the old leadership of Bondevik and Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, the party was to some extent radicalized and moved towards the left. Due largely to their poor showing in the 2009 elections, the party has seen a conflict between its conservative and liberal wings.[9] Until 2019 the leader was Knut Arild Hareide, who led the party into a more liberal direction as part of a "renewal" process,[10][11] and introduced climate change and environmentalism as the party's most important issues.[12]

HistoryEdit

The Christian Democratic Party was founded as a reaction to the growing secularism in Norway in the 1930s. Cultural and spiritual values were proposed as an alternative to political parties focusing on material values. The immediate cause of its foundation was the failure of Nils Lavik, a popular figure in the religious community, to be nominated as a candidate for the Liberal Party, for the parliamentary elections in 1933. In reaction to this, Kristelig Folkeparti was set up, with Lavik as their top candidate in the county of Hordaland. He succeeded in being elected to Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament. No other counties were contested. At the next elections, in 1936, the party also ran a common list with the Libral Party in Bergen, and succeeded in electing two representatives from Hordaland with 20.9% of the local votes.[13] In 1945, at the first elections after the Nazi occupation of Norway, the party was organised on a nationwide basis, and won 8 seats.

The Christian Democrats became part of a short-lived non-socialist coalition government along with the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the Centre Party in 1963. At the elections of 1965, these four parties won a majority of seats in Stortinget and ruled in a coalition government from 1965 to 1971.

The Christian Democrats opposed Norwegian membership in the European Community ahead of the referendum in 1972. The referendum gave a no-vote, and when the pro-EC Labour government resigned, a coalition government was formed among the anti-EC parties, the Christian Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Centre Party. Lars Korvald became the Christian Democrats' first prime minister for a year, until the elections of 1973 restored the Labour government.

The party's historic membership numbers peaked with 69,000 members in 1980.[14]

The 1981 elections left the non-socialists with a majority in parliament, but negotiations for a coalition government failed because of disagreement over the abortion issue.[15] However, this issue was later toned down, and from 1983 to 1986 and 1989 to 1990, the Christian Democrats were part of coalitions with the Conservative Party and the Centre Party.

In 1997, the Christian Democrats received 13.7% of the votes, and got 25 seats in the Storting. Kjell Magne Bondevik served as prime minister between 1997 and 2000, in coalition with the Liberal Party and the Centre Party, and then between 2001 and 2005 with the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.

In the 2005 election, the Christian Democrats received only 6.8%, and the party became part of the opposition in the Storting. In 2013, the Conservative Party and the Progress Party formed a new government based on a political agreement with the Christian Democrats and the Liberal party with confidence and supply. In the 2017 election, the party got only 4.2% and did not sign a new agreement, but got a politically strategic position as the conservative minority government mainly depended on their votes to get a majority.

In late 2018, the Christian Democrats were split over the question of a potential government participation and the future direction of the party. At a party meeting in early November 2018, the delegates were asked whether to stay in opposition or to join either a "red" or a "blue" government coalition with party leader Knut Arild Hareide favouring a centre-left government with Labour and Centre parties, and deputy leaders Olaug Bollestad and Kjell Ingolf Ropstad wanting to join the existing right-leaning cabinet of Erna Solberg. The delegates decided with a narrow majority of eight votes to join the existing Solberg's Cabinet with Conservatives, Liberals and the Progress Party.[16] In January 2019, after successful negotiations with the coalition parties the Christian Democrats eventually joined the government and Hareide resigned as party leader.[17] In April 2019, 33-year-old Minister of Children and Family Kjell Ingolf Ropstad was elected new party leader.[18]

IdeologyEdit

The Christian Democratic Party has been described as centrist,[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][excessive citations] and centre-right.[27][28][29] The party follows its European counterparts in many ways, positioning itself as a family-friendly party. While founded on the basis of advocating moral-cultural Christian issues, the party has broadened its political profile over time, although Christian values remains its core distinction. It is considered an overall centrist party, combining socially conservative views with more left-leaning economic positions.[19]

As a party centred on Christian values, the party draws support from the Christian population. Their policies supporting Christian values, and opposing same-sex marriage appeal to the more conservative religious base. The main rival in the competition for conservative Christian votes has been the Progress Party,[30] even though it has been claimed that the party has lost some of the more traditionalist and conservative votes to the further-right The Christians, citing an increasing secularisation of the Christian Democratic Party, including the removal of the mandate that party officials must be practicing Christians.[31]

Since the party was established, a declaration of Christian faith was required for a person to be a representative in the party. Membership had no such requirement. The increase of support for the party from other religions stimulated efforts to abolish this rule.[32] At the 2013 convention the rule was modified. The new rules require that representatives work for Christian values but do not require them to declare a Christian faith.[33] This latter point was considered the "last drop" for some conservative elements of the party, who as a result broke away and founded The Christians Party.[34]

In social policy the Christian Democratic Party generally have conservative opinions.[35] On life issues, the party opposes euthanasia, and abortion, though it may support abortion in cases of rape or when the mother's life is at risk. The party supports accessibility to contraception as a way of lowering abortion rates.[36] They also want to ban research on human foetuses, and have expressed scepticism for proposals to liberalise the biotechnology laws in Norway.[37] Bondevik's second government made the biotechnology laws of Norway among the strictest in the World, with support from the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party, but in 2004 a case regarding a child with thalassemia brought this law under fire.[38][39] On gay rights issues, the party supports possibilities for gay couples to live together, but opposes gay marriage and gay adoption rights. The party has criticized the Polish government's policy towards LGBT-people, and supported the Norwegian government’s decision to withdraw financial support to polish’s municipalities that have declared themselves as LGBT-free zones.[40] Party leader, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, stated: «To not be discriminated against because of one’s sexual orientation is a fundamental human right. Therefore, it is important that the government now is clear about the terms of receiving financial support through the EEA funds. We want to support a policy that protects diversity and freedom.» The party maintains neutrality on the issue of gay clergy, calling that an issue for the church.[41]

International affairs and foreign aidEdit

In foreign policy, the party marks itself as a supporter of NATO and the EEA. But they oppose Norwegian membership in the EU.

Since the turn of the millennium, the Christian Democratic Party has had a major influence on development aid policy in Norway. The first Minister of International Development was Reidun Brusletten (KrF) in 1983, when Kåre Willochs second cabinet was extended to a coalition consisting of three parties, including the Christian Democratic Party. Hilde Frafjord Johnson, also from KrF, held the position from 1997 to 2000 and again from 2001 to 2005, during Bondeviks first and second cabinet.

Dag Inge Ulstein is the third christian democrat to hold the position. He was incumbent to Minister of International Development in january 2019, after the Christian Democratic Party became part of Solbergs coalition. Ulstein has addressed the need to take care of vulnerable minorities in foreign policy and by the use of humanitarian aid. Ulstein described these group as: women, children, people with disabilities and sexual and religious minorities.[42]

Ulstein has played a prominent role in the global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on fair distribution of vaccines to poor and middle income countries.[43] As Minister of International Development, he has been the governments spokesperson regarding Norway’s contribution in the global fight against COVID-19, which involves the contribution of 2.2 billion Norwegian krones to vaccine development through CEPI, in March 2020,[44] and Norway’s entry in the global vaccine cooperation COVAX in august 2020, as one of the first European countries.[45]

In March 2021, it became clear that the Norwegian government had donated 700.000 vaccine doses to low income countries in February the previous year.[46] This created big reactions from other parties, who thought Norway instead should have given the doses to the Norwegian population. The Christian Democratic Party received much criticism, from among others, the leaders of the Progress Party and the Centre Party, Sylvi Listhaug and Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. Party leader, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, condemned the criticism and stated: «The last thing the world needs now is more egoism and competition, countries between. Instead we need to help each other. We will not succeed in the fight against COVID-19 if we only say «Norway first»».[47]

The Christian Democratic Party is a strong supporter of increased development aid and more cooperation with developing countries. They want 1 percent of the GNI to be spent on development aid, and a larger share of the sum to be spent on poverty reduction and climate change adaptation.

At the national congress in 2021, the party proposed the creation of a Norwegian climate fund.[48] The goal of the fund was to outcompete the use of coal power, by investing in renewable energy in developing countries. The Christian Democrats got the proposal through in the Storting, and a few months later the government decided to establish a climate fund consisting of 1.15 billion dollars. Experts estimated that the fund could result in more than 10 billion dollars in private investment in renewable energy.[49] The deputy leader of the Norwegian environmental organisation ZERO, Dagfrid Froberg, described the fund as: "Maybe the most important Norwegian measurement in order to fight climate change."[50]

The party supports Norway’s signature and ratification of the UNs nuclear weapons ban[51] and they want stricter rules for Norwegian arms sales abroad.

RefugeesEdit

On questions surrounding immigration, integration and refugee policy, the party has a liberal stance. The Christian Democratic Party wants to base Norway's intake of refugees on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' recommendations. In 2021, they announced that they want Norway to retrieve 5,000 refugees annually, plus 500 extra from the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece.[52]

They have also addressed what they believe is an unfair distribution of refugees, by the fact that Syria’s neighbouring countries, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, receives a higher number of refugees than other European countries.[53] Therefore, they want Norway, and western-European countries as well, to retrieve a larger amount of refugees from Syria, in order to assist neighbouring countries and help Syria who are in a difficult situation as a result of civil war.[54]

The environmentEdit

The Christian Democratic Party describes climate change and global warming as one of humanity's greatest challenges. They base their climate policy on climate research and the UN's sustainability goals.

In May 2020, ministers and parliament members from the Christian Democratic Party and the Conservative Party gained critic because they wore UN pins during the COVID-19 pandemic, which largely affected businesses and social conditions in Norway. Per-Willy Amundsen, a parliament member and former Minister of Justice and Public Security from the Progress Party, stated: “I think this is a very strange prioritizing in a time where we should stand together and when the state is caring for its citizens.” Amundsen suspected that the decision to wear UN pins was made by prime minister Erna Solberg.[55] In June 2020, Faktisk.no,[56] a Norwegian fact-checking organization, revealed that the criticism of state officials wearing UN pins started in far-right groups.[57]

The Christian Democratic Party support international climate goals and climate agreements, like the Paris agreement. They want to cut Norwegian emissions of carbon by at least 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and they aim for a climate-neutral Norway by 2050.[58] They have adressed the need for restructuring in the Norwegian petroleum industry and want to end oil and gas exploration in new areas.[59]

Protection of the vulnerable areas of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja from oil drilling, has been an important matter for the Christian Democratic Party. After the 2017 Norwegian parliamentary election, Knut Arild Hareide, party leader at the time, announced that the Christian Democratic Party would withdraw their support to Solberg's cabinet if they opened the areas for oil drilling.[60] When the Christian Democratic Party became part of Solberg's coalition-government in January 2019, it was decided that the areas were to be protected until the next election.[61]

The Christian Democratic Party wants increased funding of public transport projects outside Oslo, like the Bergen light rail.[62] They want to accomplish this by making the government finance a larger share of the cost of developing local public transport systems, in order to make public transport more accessible and efficient, especially for people with disabilities.

Voter baseEdit

Geographically, the Christian Democrats enjoy their strongest support in the so-called Bible Belt, especially in Sørlandet. In the 2005 elections, their best results were in Vest-Agder with 18.9% of the vote, compared to a national average of 6.8%.[63]

KrF has also sought support among the Muslim minority in Norway, pointing to their restrictive policies on alcohol and pornography, although the party's support for Israel concerns some Muslim voters.[64]

List of party leadersEdit

 
Campaign booth on Karl Johans gate ahead of the 2007 Norwegian local elections.

Electoral resultsEdit

 
Support for KrF in the municipalities of Norway at the Norwegian parliamentary elections of 2017.
Storting
Date Votes Seats Position Size
# % ± pp # ±
1933 10,272 0.8 New
1 / 150
New Opposition 7th
1936 19,612 1.3   0.5
2 / 150
  1 Opposition   5th
1945 117,813 7.9   6.6
8 / 150
  6 Opposition   6th
1949 147,068 8.4   0.5
9 / 150
  1 Opposition   5th
1953 186,627 10.5   2.1
14 / 150
  5 Opposition   4th
1957 183,243 10.2   0.3
12 / 150
  2 Opposition   5th
1961 171,451 9.6[a]   0.6
15 / 150
  3 Opposition[b]   4th
1965 160,331 8.1[a]   1.5
13 / 150
  2 Coalition (KrF–VHSp)   5th
1969 169,303 9.4[a]   1.3
14 / 150
  1 Coalition (1969–1971, KrF–V–H–Sp)   4th
Opposition (1971–1972)
Coalition (1972–1973, KrF–V–Sp)
1973 255,456 12.3[a]   2.9
20 / 155
  6 Opposition   4th
1977 224,355 12.4[a]   0.1
22 / 155
  2 Opposition   3rd
1981 219,179 9.4[a]   3.0
15 / 155
  7 Opposition (1981–1983)   3rd
Coalition (from 1983, H–KrF–Sp)
1985 214,969 8.3   1.1
16 / 157
  1 Coalition (1985–1986, H–KrF–Sp)   3rd
Opposition (from 1986)
1989 224,852 8.5   0.2
14 / 165
  2 Coalition (1989–1990, H–KrF–Sp)   5th
Opposition (from 1990)
1993 193,885 7.9   0.6
13 / 165
  1 Opposition   5th
1997 353,082 13.7   5.8
25 / 165
  12 Coalition (1997–2000, KrF–Sp–V)   3rd
Opposition (from 2000)
2001 312,839 12.4   1.3
22 / 165
  3 Coalition (2001–2005, H–KrF–V)   5th
Opposition (from 2005)
2005 178,885 6.8   5.6
11 / 169
  11 Opposition   5th
2009 148,748 5.5   1.3
10 / 169
  1 Opposition   6th
2013 158,475 5.6   0.1
10 / 169
  0 Opposition   4th
2017 122,688 4.2   1.4
8 / 169
  2 Opposition (2017–2019)   7th
Coalition (2019–2020, V–H–FrP–KrF)
Coalition (from 2020, V–H–KrF)
2021 110,115 3.8   0.4
3 / 169
  5 }}   9th

Further readingEdit

  • Madeley, John T.S. (2004). Steven Van Hecke; Emmanuel Gerard (eds.). Life at the Northern Margin: Christian Democracy in Scandinavia. Christian Democratic Parties in Europe Since the End of the Cold War. Leuven University Press. pp. 217–241. ISBN 90-5867-377-4.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f The Christian Democratic Party ran on joint lists with other parties in a few constituencies from 1961 to 1981. Vote numbers are from independent Christian Democratic lists only, while vote percentage also includes the Christian Democratic Party's estimated share from joint lists (Statistics Norway estimates).[65]
  2. ^ In government coalition from 28 August 1963 to 25 September 1963, see Lyng's Cabinet.

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit