Conservative Party (Norway)

The Conservative Party (Bokmål: Høyre, Nynorsk: Høgre, lit.'Right', H; Northern Sami: Olgešbellodat) is a liberal-conservative political party in Norway.[5][6] It is the major party of the Norwegian centre-right,[7][8][9] and was the leading party in government as part of the Solberg cabinet from 2013 to 2021. The current party leader is former Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The party is a member of the International Democrat Union and an associate member of the European People's Party.

Conservative Party
LeaderErna Solberg
Parliamentary leaderTrond Helleland
Founded25 August 1884
HeadquartersStortingsgaten 20
0161 Oslo (Høyres hus)
Youth wingNorwegian Young Conservatives
LGBT wingÅpne Høyre[1]
Membership (2020) 29,690[2]
IdeologyLiberal conservatism
Political positionCentre-right
European affiliationEuropean People's Party (associate)
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Nordic affiliationConservative Group
Colours  Blue
Slogan"Vi tror på Norge"
(We believe in Norway)[3]
36 / 169
County councils
167 / 777
Municipal councils[4]
1,954 / 10,620
Sámi Parliament
0 / 39

The party is traditionally a pragmatic and moderately conservative party strongly associated with the traditional elites within the civil service and Norwegian business life. During the 20th century the party has advocated economic liberalism, tax cuts, individual rights, support of monarchism, the Church of Norway and the Armed Forces, anti-communism, pro-Europeanism and support of the Nordic model; over time the party's values have become more socially liberal in areas such as gender equality, LGBT rights and immigration and integration issues, and the party is relatively secular despite its nominal support for the Church of Norway; the party defines itself as a party pursuing a "conservative progressive policy based on Christian cultural values, constitutional government and democracy".[10][11] In line with its Western alignment the party strongly supports NATO, which Norway co-founded, and has consistently been the most outspokenly pro-European Union party in Norway,[12][13] supporting Norwegian membership during both the 1972 and 1994 referendums.[14]

The Conservative Party traditionally caters to the educated elite; it has the most highly educated voters of all parties, and is the most popular party among elite groups.[15][16] In the postwar era, the party formed a grand consensus with the Labour Party regarding foreign and security policy—frequently expressed by the maxim "the foreign policy is settled" (utenrikspolitikken ligger fast)—that led Norway to co-found NATO and enter into a close alliance with the United States, and the parties' economic policies have gradually become more similar. Both parties are pragmatic, relatively technocratic, anti-populist and close to the political centre.[17] The party supports the Nordic model, but also a certain amount of semi-privatisation through state-funded private services.[18]

Founded in 1884, the Conservative Party is the second-oldest political party in Norway after the Liberal Party.[19] In the interwar era, one of the main goals for the party was to achieve a centre-right alliance against the growing labour movement, when the party went into decline. In the post-war era until 2005 the party participated in six governments: two 1960s national governments (Lyng's Cabinet and Borten's Cabinet); one 1980s Conservative Party minority government (Willoch's First Cabinet); two 1980s three-party governments (Willoch's Second Cabinet and Syse's Cabinet); in the 2000s Bondevik's Second Cabinet; and from 2013 to 2021 it was the dominant partner in a coalition government that also included the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party.[18]


Emil Stang, founder

The Conservative Party of Norway (Høire, now spelled Høyre, lit. "The Right") was founded in 1884 after the implementation of parliamentarism in Norway. The jurist Emil Stang was elected the first chairman of the party. Stang underlined important principles for the work in Høyre. The party was to be a social party of reforms that worked within the constitutional frames set by a parliamentary democracy.

Høyre's electoral support has varied. In the 1981 election it obtained 31.7%, its best result since 1924. The result in 1993 was 17%, which saw the election influenced by the EU membership issue which divided the Liberal Party. The 1997 parliamentary election resulted in the lowest support for Høyre since 1945, with only 14.3% of the votes. Since then it has seen support ranging from just over 14% to just under 27%.

Early 1900s

In the beginning of the 20th century, Høyre took the initiative to construct a modern Norwegian communications network. After the devastating First World War the party felt it important to work for the reconstruction of sound economic policies. An example of this is the resolution Høyre passed in 1923 introducing old-age insurance; owing to the condition of the state's finances it was not possible to continue this effort. It was the leading party in opposition during the post-war years in Norway, and fought against the Labour Party's regulating policy. Høyre wanted another future for Norway, consisting of private initiative and creative forces.

Høyre has been active in the construction of the welfare system in Norway, and has on several occasions taken the initiative to correct injustices in social care regulations. Additionally, Høyre has advocated that the state's activity must concentrate on its basic problems and their solutions.

Post-war years

During Norway's post-war years Høyre has consolidated its position as a party with appeal to all parts of the nation. Non-socialist co-operation as an alternative to socialism has always been one of Høyre's main aims. Høyre has led several coalition governments. The Christian Democratic Party was one of Høyre's coalition partners both in 1983–86 and 1989–90.

The party strongly supported the Western alignment of Norway during the Cold War; it strongly supports NATO, which Norway co-founded in 1949, and has consistently been the most outspokenly pro-European Union party in Norway, supporting Norwegian membership during both the referendum of 1972 and that of 1994.[14]

At the parliamentary election in 1993, it was impossible to present a credible non-socialist government alternative, because Høyre's former coalition parties, The Christian Democrats and the Centre Party, both campaigned strongly against Norwegian membership of the EU.

Before the parliamentary election in 1997 the Labour Party proclaimed that it would not be willing to govern the country if it did not obtain more than 36.9% of the votes. In the event it obtained 35%, and other parties had to form a government. Originally, there were serious discussions between Høyre, the Christian Democrats and Venstre concerning this task, but in the end the two latter parties joined forces with the Centre Party to create a minority government without Høyre.


In the parliamentary election in September 2001, Høyre obtained 21.2 percent of the votes. After a series of discussions Høyre was once again able to take part in a coalition government, this time with the Christian Democratic Party (KrF), and the Liberal Party (V). The total percentage obtained for these three parties at last general election was 37.5. Høyre, as the largest party in the coalition government, had 38 members in the present Storting, and 10 of the 19 ministers in the Government were Høyre representatives. Høyre's three focal areas this period were to establish a rise in quality in Norway's educational system, lower taxes and produce a higher service level in state sectors.

In the 2005 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 14.1% of the votes. The election outcome put Høyre back in opposition, and the party got 23 members in the present Storting.

In the 2009 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 17.2% of the votes, and 30 members in the present Storting.

During the local elections of 2011, however, the party gained 27.6 percent of the vote, and it has since then, without exceptions, polled first and second.

In the 2013 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 26.8 percent of the votes, and 48 members in the present Storting. Høyre formed a minority government, with confidence and supply from KrF and V. The Government was reelected in 2017 and became a majority Government in 2019.


Høyre has been described as a conservative party,[20][21][22] and it defines itself as a party pursuing a "conservative progressive policy based on Christian cultural values, constitutional government and democracy."[10]

Høyre is considered a centre-right reform party profess to the moderately conservative political tradition, similar to the CDU of Germany. The party broadly supports the Nordic model, like all large parties in Norway. In relative terms the party advocates a degree of fiscal free-market policies, including tax cuts and relatively little government involvement in the economy, while still supporting the welfare state and the social market economy.

Høyre is also the only party in the Storting which proposes a reduction in public spending. The party is often associated with wealth and has historically been attacked by the left for defending the country's richest, although this argument is rarely presented any more.

Traditionally the party supports established institutions such as the monarchy, the armed forces, and the state Church of Norway. Its social policies were always considered moderate and pragmatic for its time, but have gradually become more socially liberal. The party voted in 2008 for a law that recognised same-sex marriage and gay adoption rights.[23]

Membership and voter demographic

The party has around 30,000 registered members (2018). The Central Board of the Conservative Party meets seven times a year to discuss important matters such as budget, organisational work, plans, party platforms, and drawing up political lines.

The party traditionally caters to the educated elite; it has the most highly educated voters of all parties, and is the most popular party among elite groups.[15][16]

List of party chairmen and leaders

Chairperson and Prime Minister Erna Solberg
Former Prime Minister and Chairperson Jan P. Syse
Former Prime Minister and Chairperson Kåre Willoch

Electoral results

Date Votes Seats Position Size
#  % ± pp # ±
1885 33,284 36.6 0.6[lower-alpha 1]
30 / 114
1 Opposition 2nd
1888 36,564 38.7 2.1
51 / 114
21 Opposition (1888) 1st
Minority (from 1889)
1891 50,059 49.2[lower-alpha 2] 10.5
35 / 114
16 Opposition 2nd
1894 81,462 49.3[lower-alpha 2] 0.1
40 / 114
5 Opposition 2nd
1897 77,682 46.7[lower-alpha 2] 2.6
25 / 114
15 Opposition 2nd
1900 96,092 40.8[lower-alpha 2] 5.9
31 / 114
6 Opposition 2nd
1903 106,042 44.8[lower-alpha 2] 4.0
47 / 117
16 Coalition (1903–1905, H–VS) 2nd
Coalition (1905–1906, H–V–MV)
1906 Within the Coalition Party 12.0[lower-alpha 3]
36 / 123
26[lower-alpha 3] Opposition 2nd
1909 175,388 41.5[lower-alpha 4] 8.7
64 / 123
29 Opposition (1909–1910) 1st
Coalition (from 1910, H–FV)
1912 162,074 33.2[lower-alpha 4] 8.3
24 / 123
40 Coalition (1912–1913, H–FV) 2nd
Opposition (from 1913)
1915 179,028 29.0[lower-alpha 4] 4.2
21 / 123
3 Opposition 2nd
1918 201,325 30.4[lower-alpha 4] 1.4
49 / 126
28 Opposition (1918–1920) 2nd
Coalition (from 1920, H–FV)
1921 301,372 33.3[lower-alpha 4] 2.9
57 / 150
8 Opposition (1921–1923) 1st
Coalition (from 1923, H–FV)
1924 316,846 32.5[lower-alpha 4] 0.8
54 / 150
3 Opposition (1924–1926) 1st
Coalition (from 1926, H–FV)
1927 240,091 24.0[lower-alpha 4] 8.5
31 / 150
23 Coalition (1927–1928, H–FV) 3rd
Opposition (from 1928)
1930 327,731 27.4[lower-alpha 4] 3.4
44 / 150
13 Opposition 2nd
1933 252,506 20.2[lower-alpha 4] 7.2
30 / 150
14 Opposition 2nd
1936 310,324 21.3[lower-alpha 4] 1.1
36 / 150
6 Opposition 2nd
1945 252,608 17.0 4.3
25 / 150
11 Opposition 2nd
1949 279,790 18.3[lower-alpha 5] 1.3
23 / 150
2 Opposition 2nd
1953 327,971 18.6[lower-alpha 5] 0.3
27 / 150
4 Opposition 2nd
1957 301,395 18.9[lower-alpha 5] 0.3
29 / 150
2 Opposition 2nd
1961 354,369 20.0[lower-alpha 5] 1.1
29 / 150
0 Opposition[lower-alpha 6] 2nd
1965 415,612 21.1[lower-alpha 5] 1.1
31 / 150
2 Coalition (1965–1969, H–V–SpKrF) 2nd
1969 406,209 19.6[lower-alpha 5] 1.5
29 / 150
2 Coalition (1969–1971, H–V–Sp–KrF) 2nd
Opposition (from 1971)
1973 370,370 17.4[lower-alpha 5] 2.2
29 / 155
0 Opposition 2nd
1977 563,783 24.8[lower-alpha 5] 7.4
41 / 155
12 Opposition 2nd
1981 780,372 31.7 6.9
53 / 155
12 Minority (1981–1983) 2nd
Coalition (from 1983, H–KrF–Sp)
1985 791,537 30.4 1.3
50 / 157
3 Coalition (1985–1986, H–KrF–Sp) 2nd
Opposition (from 1986)
1989 588,682 22.2 8.2
37 / 165
13 Coalition (1989–1990, H–KrF–Sp) 2nd
Opposition (from 1990)
1993 419,373 17.0 5.2
28 / 165
9 Opposition 3rd
1997 370,441 14.3 2.7
23 / 165
5 Opposition 4th
2001 534,852 21.2 6.9
38 / 165
15 Coalition (H–KrF–V) 2nd
2005 372,008 14.1 7.1
23 / 169
15 Opposition 3rd
2009 462,465 17.2 3.1
30 / 169
7 Opposition 3rd
2013 760,232 26.8 9.6
48 / 169
18 Coalition (H–FrP) 2nd
2017 732,897 25.0 1.8
45 / 169
3 Coalition (2017–2018, H–FrP) 2nd
Coalition (2018–2019, H–FrP–V)
Coalition (2019–2020, H–FrP–V–KrF)
Coalition (from 2020, H–V–KrF)
2021 607,316 20.5 4.5
36 / 169
9 Opposition 2nd

See also


  1. Compared to the Conservatives, a broad movement opposing parliamentarism prior to the creation of political parties (in contrast with the Liberals which supported it). The Conservative Party was formed in 1884 in connection with this dispute.
  2. Contested the election in alliance with the Moderate Liberal Party.
  3. Compared to the combined seats and vote share of the Conservative Party, the Moderate Liberal Party, and the Coalition Party in the previous parliament.
  4. Includes vote share and seats of the Free-minded Liberal Party (Statistics Norway).[24]
  5. The Conservative Party ran on joint lists in a limited number of constituencies from 1949 to 1977. Vote numbers are from independent Conservative lists only, while vote percentage also includes the Conservative Party's estimated share from joint lists (Statistics Norway estimates).[25]
  6. In government coalition from 28 August 1963 to 25 September 1963, see Lyng's Cabinet.


  1. "Forsiden - Åpne Høyre". Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  2. "God medlemsvekst". Hoyre (in Norwegian). 14 January 2020.
  3. "Høyre - Vi tror på Norge". Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  4. "Høgre". Valg 2011 (in Norwegian). Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  5. Nordsieck, Wolfram (2017). "Norway". Parties and Elections in Europe. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  6. "Valgomaten: Riksdekkende 2007". Aftenposten. 2007. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  7. "The political framework of Norway". Nordea. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  8. "Norway election: Terror survivors run for parliament". BBC News. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  9. "Norway's opposition Labour party leads in opinion poll". Reuters. 19 August 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  10. Information about Høyre
  11. Wayne C. Thompson (2012), Nordic, Central and Southeastern Europe 2012, p.54.
  12. "Høyre" Archived 26 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Store norske leksikon. "Ved EF/EU-avstemningene i 1972 og 1994 var Høyre det klareste ja-partiet."
  13. "Høyre" Archived 1 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine Høyre's Politikk. "Høyre ønsker å erstatte EØS-avtalen med full deltagelse i EU."
  14. Tvedt, Knut Are (31 October 2009). "Høyre". In Pettersen, Henrik (ed.). Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  15. "Syv grafer som viser hvor forskjellige Høyre og Frp-velgerne faktisk er".
  16. Nicolajsen, Av Stian. "Eliten skyr Frp og Sp". Klassekampen.
  17. "På sitt beste har Ap ført bedre høyrepolitikk enn Høyre". Civita. 5 April 2020.
  18. Helljesen, Vilje; Bakken, Laila Ø. "Høyre – skatter, skole og frihet". Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  19. "Partienes historie". Eidsvoll 1814. Archived from the original on 21 April 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  20. Slomp, Hans (2011). Europe, A Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39182-8. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  21. "Norway - Political parties" Archived 5 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Norsk samfunnsvitenskapelig datatjeneste.
  22. "Høyre" Archived 26 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Store norske leksikon. "Høyre er et norsk konservativt politisk parti... Høyres politikk bygger på tankegods fra konservatismen og liberalismen."
  23. John Kaare Bjerkan: Historisk vedtak Archived 11 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine NRK, 11 June 2008
  24. "Statistisk årbok 2000, Tabell 2: Stortingsvalg. Valgte representanter, etter parti. 1906–2001". Archived from the original on 10 June 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  25. "Tabell 25.3 Stortingsvalg. Godkjente stemmer etter parti1. Prosent". Archived from the original on 16 September 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
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