Democracy is shrinking
The role of democracy is shrinking in oil-rich Norway, researchers said on Tuesday at the end of a five-year state-funded study.
"Democracy as a chain from elections to decisions
is weakened all the way," said Oyvind Oesterud, who
chaired the 'Power and Democracy' project. "Parties
don't mobilise many voters any more, and young people are
less active than before, so the trend is likely to gather
pace," Oesterud said.
Norway's oil wealth is part of the explanation, he reasoned. Norway is the world's number three oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia and Russia, pumping about 3.0 million barrels per day.
"All kinds of reforms are delayed in Norway because of the enormous
windfall from oil and gas," Oesterud told Reuters. "Conflicts of wealth
distribution are less pronounced here than in almost all other countries."
A U.N. survey this year placed Norway top of a ranking of nations to live according to factors including literacy, incomes and life expectancy. The very success of Norway's welfare state has blunted political controversy. The Norwegian review of democracy involved 200 researchers and cost 49 million crowns ($6.36 million). It has produced 50 books and 75 reports.
"The public now will have one year to respond to these conclusions,"
said Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, head of a minority centre-right coalition. "Later, the government will draw up a white paper," he added.