Cabinet of Norway

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This article is part of a series on the
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Constitution

The Cabinet of Norway is a formal body composed of the most senior government ministers chosen by the Prime Minister, and functions as the collective decision-making organ constituting the executive branch of the Kingdom. It is referred to as the Council of State (Norwegian: Statsrådet), and simultaneously plays the role of privy council as well as government Cabinet. With the exception of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who retain their ministerial ranking in their own right, all the other members of the Cabinet concurrently hold the position of statsråd, meaning Councillor of State, and that of Chief of the various departments, not formally being considered 'ministers', although commonly addressed as such. The Cabinet normally convenes every week, usually on Fridays at 11:00 a.m. at the Royal Palace, Oslo, and is presided over by the King.

Constitutional basis[edit]

Under the 1814 Constitution of Norway, the second-oldest national Constitution still in operation (after the US Constitution), the King is the head of the executive branch of Norway. However, historical developments such as the introduction of Parliamentarism in 1884 and evolving constitutional tradition have altered the King's role, meaning that the Prime Minister, holding the leadership of a political party enjoying electoral support, is the de facto head of government. Accordingly, when Article 3 of the Constitution reads, "The Executive Power is vested in the King", this nowadays reflects the powers conferred on the elected government, operating through the Council of State and headed by the Prime Minister.

The parliamentary system of Norway entails that the Cabinet must not have Parliament against it, and that the appointment by the King is a formality. The members making up the Council of State require the confidence of the Norwegian legislative body, known as the Storting. In practice, the monarch will ask the leader of a parliamentary block that has a majority in the Storting to form a government. After elections resulting in no clear majority to any party or coalition, the leader of the party most likely to be able to form a government is appointed Prime Minister.

The fact that the original wording of the Constitution has not been modified to reflect contemporary practice, is a testimony to the widespread conservative sentiments shared across the political aisle that extensive constitutional revision should be avoided. In practice, this means that the function, authority and mandate of the Council of State is heavily influenced by long-standing conventions.

The Council of State is established by the following article of the Constitution, stating that

The King himself chooses a Council from among Norwegian citizens who are entitled to vote. This Council shall consist of a Prime Minister and at least seven other Members. More than half the number of the Members of the Council of State shall profess the official religion of the State. The King apportions the business among the Members of the Council of State as he deems appropriate. Under extraordinary circumstances, besides the ordinary Members of the Council of State, the King may summon other Norwegian citizens, although no Members of the Storting, to take a seat in the Council of State. Husband and wife, parent and child or two siblings may never sit at the same time in the Council of State.

—Constitution of Norway, Article 12

Functions and mandate[edit]

The Cabinet of Norway meets in the Royal Palace, Oslo

The Council of State convenes to formally make decisions on matters of State, passing so-called Royal Resolutions (Norwegian: Kongelige resolusjoner) or Orders in Council. Theoretically, the Royal Resolutions themselves are the King's decisions, but are practically those of the government. However, they require the contra-signature of the Prime Minister, or, in cases relating to military command, of the Minister of Defence in order to be valid. Later, entire records from the proceedings of the Council of State is signed by all its members. This is done in order to remove all personal responsibility on part of the King, in keeping with Article 5 of the Constitution, which states that, "The King's person is sacred; he cannot be censured or accused. The responsibility rests with his Council". Another feature of this system is that the King, when having sanctioned a decision, is referred to as King-in-Council (Norwegian: Kongen i statsråd), meaning the King as well as his council.

According to the Constitution, certain cases, such as appointments and dismissals of higher office, pardons, provisional measures, church ordinances and ratifications of treaties must be administered by the Council of State. Whilst not prescribed in the Constitution, the signing of bills and other regulations into law is the most important feature of the work being conducted during sessions of the Council of State.

Duty of remonstrance[edit]

Article 30 of the Norwegian Constitution states that any member of the Council of State, if he is of the opinion that the "King's decision conflicts with the form of government or the laws of the Realm" is bound by a "duty to make strong remonstrances against it, as well as to enter his opinion in the records." The Article continues by stating that a Member who has not voiced such objections is liable of impeachment by the Storting should a decision made in the Council of State later be found unlawful. For the same reason, the aforesaid Article prescribes that all of the decisions made in the Council of State shall be put down in official records.

Requirements of membership[edit]

Whilst most members of the Cabinet originate from within the Storting and will have their seats deputised during their time in office, being Member of Parliament is not a requirement. However, since the introduction of Parliamentarism in 1884, all members of the Cabinet must have the express support of the legislature. In addition, they must hold Norwegian citizenship and be eligible to vote, meaning that they have attained the age of 18. Another requirement is that there must be a majority of members affiliated with the Church of Norway, the national state church. When church matters are on the table, all members of the Cabinet not registered with the Church will not be in attendance.

Order of precedence and succession[edit]

There is no official order of succession to the premiership of Norway, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs has traditionally been regarded as akin to Deputy Prime Minister, although no such title officially exists. The King established on 1 July 1993 an Order of precedence to direct seating and ranking on formal occasions. Here, the Minister of Finance enjoys the foremost rank after the Prime Minister, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs only coming in third, behind the minister of Agriculture and Food.

Current composition[edit]

Ministry Position Incumbent Image In office since
Statsikon.svg
Office of the Prime Minister
Statsministerens kontor
Prime Minister
Statsminister
Erna Solberg Erna Solberg, Wesenberg, 2011 (1).jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Office of the Prime Minister
Statsministerens kontor
Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister
Samordningsminister
Vidar Helgesen 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Utenriksdepartementet
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Utenriksminister
Børge Brende Børge Brende at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2008.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Finance
Finansdepartementet
Minister of Finance
Finansminister
Siv Jensen SivJensen2428 2E jpg DF0000062823.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Defence
Forsvarsdepartementet
Minister of Defence
Forsvarsminister
Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide 20090830-2.JPG 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Nærings- og handelsdepartementet
Minister of Trade and Industry
Nærings- og handelsminister
Monica Mæland 31.08.2013, Monica Mæland.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs & Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development
Fornyings- og kirkedepartementet & Kommunal- og regionaldepartementet
Minister of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs
Fornyings- og kirkeminister & Kommunal- og regionalminister
Jan Tore Sanner Jan Tore Sanner.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Health and Care Services
Helse- og omsorgsdepartementet
Minister of Health and Care Services
Helse- og omsorgsminister
Bent Høie Bent Høie.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Culture
Kulturdepartementet
Minister of Culture
Kulturminister
Thorhild Widvey 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Labour
Arbeidsdepartementet
Minister of Labour
Arbeidsminister
Robert Eriksson Robert Eriksson.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Transport and Communications
Samferdselsdepartementet
Minister of Transport and Communications
Samferdselsdepartementet
Ketil Solvik-Olsen Ketil solvik olsen.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs
Fiskeri- og kystdepartementet
Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs
Fiskeri- og kystminister
Elisabeth Aspaker Elisabeth Aspaker 2009.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of the Environment
Miljøverndepartementet
Minister of the Environment
Miljøvernminister
Tine Sundtoft 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Landbruks- og matdepartementet
Minister of Agriculture and Food
Landbruks- og matminister
Sylvi Listhaug Sylvi Listhaug 2261 (edit).jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Justice and Emergency Planning
Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet
Minister of Justice and Emergency Planning
Justis- og beredskapsminister
Anders Anundsen Anders Anundsen 2D 3 2D 3 2E jpg DF0000301281 (crop).jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion
Barne- og likestillingsdepartementet
Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion
Barne- og likestillingsminister
Solveig Horne Solveig Horne.jpg 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Research and Higher Education
Kunnskapsdepartementet
Minister of Education
Kunnskapsminister
Torbjørn Røe Isaksen T Roe Isaksen 01.JPG 16 October 2013
Statsikon.svg
Ministry of Petroleum and Energy
Olje- og energidepartementet
Minister of Petroleum and Energy
Olje- og energiminister
Tord Lien Tord Lien 8320.jpg 16 October 2013

External links[edit]