Norway – More From Two: Observations of Politics – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Norway – More From Two: Observations of Politics – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Editor’s Note: this is a part of a special series from Jonia Gordon, a talented student who is studying in Oslo, Norway for the Fall 2015 semester. Jonia is a thoughtful writer, as well as a talented artist. The illustrations that accompany this article are also by Jonia.

During the period in which I studied abroad in Norway, I was fortunate enough to be there during local (city/county) elections. Throughout the program, we (as a class) were able to learn about how the political system began and has evolved throughout the years, the political parties, and how the voting system works. At the same time, we were able to observe the process of campaigning for the election that would take place.

In the process of learning, I couldn’t help but to draw comparisons between the United States and Norway. The U.S. is a system that I was more familiar with and yet, it wasn’t until I was confronted with the system of Norway that I was able to have a changed perception. In the U.S., there is a bi-partisan system (Democrats and Republicans) that has led to the citizens having to make a choice for one over the other. The easiest way I can describe this is that both parties come as a standard meal; each has food items that you like, dislike, and have no strong opinion towards your preference. Yet, you must make a decision between these two standard meals – no substitutions allowed. As a citizen you must make the choice of what meal (political party) suits your tastes the most.

joniapol1

(Picture 1: Visual representation of bipartisan standard meal described above.)

In comparison to the constitutional monarchy, which has a parliamentary system. that operates under a coalition of multiple parties. Some notable parties are: the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet), the Conservative Party (Høyre, literal translation: ‘Right), the Liberal Party (Venstre, literal translation: ‘Left’), and the Green Party (Miljøpariet De Grønne). This system still offers the standard meals; however, due to their being multiple parties available, the meals are more specific (focused political goals). This helps the citizens to decide on a party with less compromises to their opinions/political standings. This system still has drawbacks just as the U.S. does.

One fact about Norway’s system that I really appreciate is the voter registration process. The individual citizen is automatically registered to vote when they are born and the birth certificate has been verified. I believe that this system has a large impact on why the country has such a large voter turnout. It led me to wonder how much of a difference this would make in the U.S., if it became a commonplace system. Still, one must consider the population and geographical differences between the two countries and how that impacts the quality and rate of how it would operate on a larger scale. Another aspect of the Norwegian system that caught my attention is the youth wings of parties that are active within all of its municipalities. The use of the term ‘youth wing’ has some negative associations (e.g., WWII) that can lead to assumptions and misunderstandings as to what its purpose and function is. One major event is that when elections are occurring, high schools will hold mock elections (and youth wing members are active in presenting the parties views) a week or so prior to the official elections. These mock elections are followed closely throughout Norway and are considered to be major indicators of how the results will turn out.
joniapol2
(Picture 2: Visual representation of Norway’s voter registration)

Finally, I thought the campaigning process was fascinating. Due to parties being established and well-known for their views, there isn’t as long of a campaigning season. Although, I observed a local election (Oslo), the campaigning didn’t begin until a month before the election and (supposedly) national elections have only a slightly longer season. Then I look towards the United States and see a stark difference in length. In many ways, I’ve come back with a more negative view towards the system in the U.S. and that definitely led to me wanting to ignore the campaigning as long as I could.
At the same time. I decided to focus more intently in order to be a person for change and not fall into the category of an inactive or uninformed voter. I’ve taken a lot from this experience and believe that it has benefitted myself to delve more into politics than I have in the past.
joniapol3
(Picture 3: My response to the United States while the Norwegian municipalities elections were occurring.)

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

38 Comments

Filed under Jonia Gordon, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

38 responses to “Norway – More From Two: Observations of Politics – by Jonia Gordon. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Holly Kampa

    Jonia, thank you for sharing! I thought it was interesting that Norweigans are registered to vote once they are born. I think if the US did something similar, then many more people would vote. I like how you compared our political system to food, I thought that it was a good metaphor. I agree with you that watching our political candidates makes me want to turn off the TV as well. Politics can be a very sticky and controversial topic and I think many people want to avoid it altogether. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Gina Palmi

    I liked how you compared the political parties to meals. I’ve never thought about it that way, but it is a pretty accurate analogy. It’s interesting to see how other countries operate because Americans tend to think we do everything the best way. I loved your final illustration about our current candidates!

  3. Matthew R Breeze

    This is a great contrast piece. I really appreciate how you emphasized the voter registration and the length of the campaign season. Here in the U.S. there always seems to be a huge, partisan, debate over voter registration, but in Norway that is a non-issue. The length of campaigns really surprised me though. Only a month?? I wish it were shorter here in the U.S. maybe we can learn something from the Norwegians when it comes to these things.

  4. This was so interesting to read! It is different to see that Norwegian citizens are registered to vote as soon as they are born. That seems like a good idea because I think that half of the battle that U.S citizens face when it come to voting, is that registering to vote takes more time out of their day, so they decide to just not vote at all. It was interesting as well to see the campaign time, being in a campaign season right now, I wish ours was only a month! Thank you!

  5. Jacob Carson

    I think that is important to understand that there is not a perfect political system. Even though the democracy we live in gives us many freedoms, it would be silly to say that our government is a smooth running machine. I think that government should be set up to change with the times, and ours still runs on prehistoric rules and regulations that were not fit for a country of our size or prominence. I am glad to see that you came back with a view that some things definitely need to change in order for our system to become great again.

  6. Sarah Burton

    I definitely think that it is important to understand out political system once someone has the ability to vote. Our system is not perfect and there are many changes that should take place to be more effective in the future. It is great that you had the opportunity to learn about another country’s political system. It is interesting to be able to compare and contrast two countries’ political systems and see what works well for one country but might not work well for another country.

  7. Molly Enich

    Thanks for sharing! I think it’s great to hear that high schools in Norway hold mock elections and get their students involved in politics. In my small high school (I graduated with 38 people), we had no political club so its great to hear that it is widespread in Norwegian high schools. It is also very interesting to compare the lengths of the political campaigns. In the US, the campaigning season lasts for a very long time, and I believe many of us are tired of hearing and seeng presidential ads within a couple months. Thanks again!

  8. Emily Ciernia

    Thanks for sharing, Jonia! I thought your analogy of the US and Norwegian politics being meal choices was really interesting, but also easy to understand. I also think it was interesting to read the similarities and differences between the two different countries. Like you, I think that a country will have better voter turnout if each person is registered at birth. I wonder if the US would ever adopt this and how it will affect the voting process. I always think it is interesting to compare another countries practices compared to the US. It really opens my eyes. Thanks again for sharing!

  9. Rachel Reicher

    Thank you for sharing. As a young adult, I do not know much about politics. It is great to read a perspective of a different countries politics. What struck me as unique is the their voting registration. Every country is different in the way it is run. Some may not agree with the ways, but some do. I believe it is important to know about ours and others politics, and I plan to begin to learn. Thank you again for sharing other perspectives!

  10. Jenna Algoo

    How neat is it that you experienced another part of the world making a choice for who to lead them in their up and coming future? That sounds incredible! I think it is always healthy to compare and contrast where you live with another system so that in the future, maybe you could make the change. Even if its not you personally, it could be by your word. Thanks for your article and thanks for the lovely drawing. They are always so entertaining! I also really like the way you used food to make the political system more understandable.

  11. Catherine McConnell

    Norwegian politics are very interesting and I’m jealous you got to experience campaign season first hand! When I tried to understand the political system in Norway after asking a Norwegian friend I just got really confused but it looks like you have a handle on it. I am glad you commented on the length of the campaign season. The US had one of the longest campaign seasons in the world and as a direct result the most expensive. This excludes people to run for any office just on the thought alone that they can not raise enough money to run. I believe this is wrong and we should take a nod from the Norwegians to a shorter campaign.

  12. Nichole DeBoom

    Norwegian politics and American politics seem like two different worlds. It would be interesting to see how other countries handle their voting. Being twenty years old, and only voting once, I can already say they make it too difficult for American’s to vote. I agree that America would have a better voter turnout if they made it easier or citizens to vote. Interesting topic and comparison!

  13. It is wonderful that you were able to learn more about Norwegian politics in the best was possible by witnessing the processes firsthand! It is amazing to think about how each and every area in the world has a different way of practicing politics within their governments. I appreciate that you were willing to critically evaluate as well as directly compare and contrast Norway’s politics dealing with election cycle with the United State’s election cycle. What about the smaller duration of election cycle period was appealing to you specifically?

  14. It is great that you were able to experience and comprehend the running’s of a European political system, something that differs greatly from that of the US. The concept of enabling citizens the right to vote from birth is an effective way to boost voter turnout. I’m sure that having this privilege is reinforced with education on the country’s political system and voting. It is also interesting how length of the campaigning differs greatly to campaigns here in the US. I bet it is more cost efficient and encourages more people to run for any position in office!

  15. Nancy Thao

    Politics has always been the hardest subject for me. After reading your article, I have to agree with you that it is nice for citizens in Norway to be automatically registered to vote. I think it really helps save time but as you mentioned, there are factors to take into considerations. I think the reason it is so important to be an active voter is that it shows that one has voice their opinion by making their choice. I do not think those who did not vote have the right to blame the voters if the chosen president is not to their liking. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Kyle Dosan

    Thank you for sharing your experience, a wonderful article. I must start out by saying that I loved the comparison you made between political parties and meals. It was very interesting for you to point out that once someone is born in Norway they are already registered voters. This is something that separates the two countries politically. Really interesting article and thanks for sharing your knowledge of Norwegian politics with us all.

  17. Jodi Moran

    I am not one who knows really anything about politics, so I try to avoid it whenever I can, usually in conversation. I do, however, try to exercise my right to vote. I really liked the way that you explained the differences in political structure in the way of meals, it was easy to understand and follow. What a unique way that the Norwegians approach politics and especially the mock trials that they have. Like you said, I wonder how it would be different in the States if we approached politics in that way.

  18. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing! I think the idea behind a birth certificate being the thing that allows you to vote is kind of a genius idea. I feel like the US should maybe look into that idea especially since we have a third of the population turning out for our elections and Norway seems to have a bigger majority of voters. I also enjoyed your metaphor of the US parties being like a meal with some enjoyable foods and some not so favorable foods on the plate. Great Article!

  19. Martti Maunula

    Very interesting to learn more about another nation’s political system and how it works for them. The change in campaigning seemed like one of the most drastic to me when compared to the States. With just one month of campaigning in Norway or slightly longer as you mentioned, it seems more like they are less trying to sway people their way and more just letting people know that they are there and they are an option. I’d be curious to see how such a system holds up in America.
    The campaigning here can get extremely heated and very controversial, and I’m not sure if it’s as bad in Norway, but even though it’s been shown to be effective, it leaves me dissatisfied when all I learn is dirt on the candidates from each other. I would be more interested in knowing the policies they are trying to push more as well as a more detailed plan of how they are going to get there. Saying something is one thing, but getting it pushed into reality is another thing entirely. Again, not knowing if Norway is any better in this, but overall I got a positive image of their government, keeping in mind there would definitely be advantages and disadvantages to each. Unintended consequences.

  20. Jena O'Byrne

    What a fascinating article. I truly believe there is a lack of understanding in politics especially in the United States. It is interesting to see how other areas in the world handle politics and their government. The Norwegians approach to politics sounds very interesting, and I would definitely like to learn more about it. I also like how as you described, it seems that the younger generation in Norway are educated in politics. Another important point to make is that you can be an active voter but what really makes the difference is how educated you are in politics.

  21. I know for a fact some of my friends don’t vote just because they don’t know how to register or where to vote. Some don’t even know what primaries and caucuses are. What they need to do is have a class senior year in public schools that teaches them how the voting system works and maybe actually register during that time. It would also be beneficial if this course was available at community centers for those not enrolled in public school. Our generations views on politics are based on media (for the most part) sleeve articles, scandalous revving stories, media debate forums and the maybe news stories.

  22. Connor

    I particularly like the short campaigning season in Norway’s elections. In my opinion, longer seasons only serve to make the elections less about the politics and more about personal attacks on other candidates. With so much more time to dig up dirt and develop personal attacks against other candidates, the actual policies seem to matter less than they probably should. A short season, on the other hand, would seem to leave time for the candidates to present what really matters, their policies, and would cause the citizens to spend the relatively short season considering those policies, rather than playing into the drama we often find during our elections.

  23. Donovan Blatz

    This story was very interesting to read! It is interesting to read about different political parties and elections in other countries. I also find the Afghanistan election very interesting as well. I find it cool that from birth, people are already registered voters unlike here in the United States. Also, it would be interesting to compare how much is spent on advertising compared to this years election and how much money is spent by each individual.

  24. Bryce Gadke

    I appreciate the contrast that you provided for the contrast between the voter registration and the length of the campaign season.I could not imagine everything that happens in the political voting process happening in a month, but maybe that would be for the best. The combination of the Obama farewell tour happening for so long and the drawn out political season creates a frenzy for the media. It would be beneficial to put everything in a month so that we could focus on the issues at hand much throughout this year. The reason I don’t think our process will change is the need of individuals to know what their future security looks like; with the need to control as much as possible, the people think they need a long, drawn out political cycle to make a sufficient decision.

  25. Courtney Banks

    That would be super interesting to see how other countries elect or bring in their next leader! My family’s heritage traces back to Norway, so it makes me feel a sense of pride knowing that the citizens have the right to vote. That must have been an amazing opportunity to see the different ways of elections and foreign politics. Although I’m not a fan of politics, I think it’s great that you were able to experience this.

  26. Jessica Richart

    Very interesting article! I am definitely the type of person who likes to avoid the discussion of politics, but I also know how important it really is. I thought it was pretty interesting that in Norway once you are born you are registered to vote. I wonder if we had this in the US if we would see more people voting then. I also really liked your comparison to food. That was very interesting and relatable; no one had ever explained it to me like that before, so nice job! Thanks again for sharing!

  27. Roman Schnobrich

    Right from the start of the article I had hoped you’d compare and contrast the two very different political systems. After seeing Norway’s system and realizing how it works in comparison to that of the U.S., do you think their system could realistically work in the States? Our size plays a large factor in what system we participate in, so maybe population should be more of a concern. However, obviously something must change, as bi-partisan politics does not seem to work well anymore, and I’m sure some would argue it never has.

  28. I think in todays society it is very easy to forget how important politics are. Our government and politics shape how we live from day to day. It was interesting to hear about Norway, and how they go about doing their politics. I really liked how voters are registered with a birth certificate. I think that would be very helpful. I feel like a lot of the time people don’t want to deal with getting registered or don’t know how. This might be why the younger generation in the US does not want to take on the responsibility of voting. Great article!!

  29. Sandy Davidson-Hunt

    This type of election seems to be very similar to elections where I am from, this being Canada. Canada also has a number of different political parties (usually around 5) that are much more specialized than American political parties. It is also a much shorter election season, although not as short as 1 month. After having experienced the Canadian election in years past, and he American process this year, I tend to prefer the Canadian process. Despite this, I think it is important to note there likely is no perfect election process as there are flaws in every political system. Thanks for sharing and providing a unique insight into the election process of a foreign country.

  30. Sara Desrocher

    What a great experience, to be in a foreign country during an election period. It is interesting to witness the political order of a country that we are not used to. I only really know how politics work in the US so it would be quite the experience to see how it differs in other countries. I hope to witness these someday and see how similar or different the processes are!

  31. Mike Zupfer

    Politics has always been a topic i have avoided at family get togethers. Usually, my relatives will get pretty heated when it comes to politics and they will be split. I have always been the quiet one so i prefer to ignore that and talk about other things! It is interesting at how different the 2 countries operate. I think if we were registered to vote at a young age, we would be more inclined to vote when we are older. Like many things, you learn better when you start at a younger age.

  32. “I could always learn Norwegian.” I am a very frustrated voter as well. Many of my beliefs are liberal in nature, and this seems to force me to tick the democrat box. I really wish we had a system where there were more than two parties, say the green party and even a center party. I believe that by forcing people to vote for individuals who don’t quite fit your beliefs the political system is cheating people of their voices. I do have a question, does Norway have a process by which people can become naturalized? Or are only those born in Norway able to vote. I appreciate your analysis of the Norwegian political system.

  33. Sofia Pineda

    I really enjoyed this article , Jonia. I think it is really interesting to see how different politics work around the globe. I had the opportunity to study in Washington, DC last semester and I also had a great learning experience. I was able to draw connections between Honduras’ political system and the one implemented in the US just like you could draw similarities and differences between US and Norway’s political system. One of the biggest differences I also noticed was the length of political campaigns and also the amount of money invested in this. It amazes me to realize how much time, money and energy US politicians devote to their campaign.

  34. Andrea Ramler

    Thank you for sharing Jonia, this was a great article. Its interesting to see political views from another country and compare it to our own. It gives a huge sense of difference but also better understanding of things going on somewhere else in the world. I think the actual size of the country also depends on what type of political view a person has as well. It must have been cool to see elections and different types of foreign policies. I hope that I will be able to experience something like this to get a better idea of things happening around our world today.

  35. You do an excellent job of explaining their political system! I also am most familiar with the U.S. system so it was helpful for you to use that as a comparison. That being said, you did not presume the reader of this already knew about the U.S. political system. For those reasons, I think this article was excellent at explaining things to people regardless of their background or prior knowledge. Thanks for writing this!

  36. McKenna Holman

    This was an awesome read! I never knew much about election processes or political parties outside of the United States, so this was really fascinating. I like that they have more parties so, like you said, you are making less compromises when choosing a presidential candidate to support. I also like that when you are born you are automatically registered to vote. I find that many of my friends do not vote because they are unaware of how to register or they feel it just takes too much time, even if they strongly support a candidate and would love to see them in office. I was dead set on voting even in our towns local elections, so I figured out how to registrar to vote, but I agree with my friends, it is sort of a hassle to do so. I believe if we had a simple registering process or even be automatically registered when we are born we would have a much higher youth voter turnout and also a higher voter turnout in general. Also mock elections, yes! I believe high schools should hold these! So many young kids are so uneducated on presidential elections and candidates and they need to be educated! They don’t have to love politics, in fact they can hate it, but at the very least it is something they should understand well enough to make and educated decision on who to vote for.

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