The Conservative Party (Bokmål: Høyre, Nynorsk: Høgre, H, literally "Right") is a liberal-conservative political party in Norway. It is the major party of the Norwegian centre-right, and the leading party in the governing Solberg cabinet. The current party leader is the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg.
In national elections in September 2013, voters ended eight years of Labour Party rule. A coalition of the Conservative Party and the Progress Party (FrP) entered office based on promises of tax cuts, better services and stricter rules on immigration, with the support of the Liberal Party and Christian Democratic Party. After winning the elections, Solberg said her win was "a historic election victory for the right-wing parties".
The party advocates economic liberalism, reduction of taxes, and individual rights, and defines itself as a "conservative party of progress". It has historically been the most outspokenly pro-European Union party in Norway, supporting Norwegian membership during both the 1972 and 1994 referendums. The party generally supports semi-privatization through state-funded private services and tougher law and order measures.
Founded in 1884, the Conservative Party is the second oldest political party in Norway after the Liberal Party. 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), and in the 2000s Bondevik's Second Cabinet.
The Conservative Party of Norway ("Høyre") 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, Høyre got 31.7%. It was the best election since 1924. The result in 1993 was 17%. This election was influenced by the EU membership issue which divided the Liberal Party. The 1997 parliamentary election resulted in the lowest support since 1945, with only 14.3% of the votes. Høyre has since then seen increased popular support, and got 21.3% in the 1999 local elections and 21.2% in the 2001 parliamentary election.
In the beginning of the 20th century Høyre took the initiative to construct a modern Norwegian communications network. After the devastating First World War it was important for Høyre to work for the reconstruction of sound, economic politics. An example of this is the resolution Høyre passed in 1923 introducing old-age insurance. But because of the State's finances it was not possible to continue this effort. Høyre was the leading party in opposition in the post-war years in Norway. Høyre fought against the Labour Party's regulating policy. Høyre wanted another future for Norway consisting of private initiative and creative forces.
Høyre has been a protagonist in the construction of the welfare system in this country, and has on several occasions taken 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.
During the 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.
At the parliamentary election in 1993 it was impossible to present a credible non-socialist government alternative because Høyres former coalition parties, The Christian Democrats and the Centre Party both campaigned strongly against Norwegian membership in the EU.
Before the parliamentary election in 1997 the Labour party proclaimed that they would not be willing to govern the country if they did not obtain more than 36.9% of the votes. As it turned out, they got 35%, and other parties had to form government. Originally, there were serious discussions between Høyre, The Christian Democrats and Venstre to take on this task, but the end result was that 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.
Høyre is considered a reform party profess to the moderately conservative political tradition, adhering to the thoughts of Edmund Burke. The party is committed to fiscal free-market policies, including tax cuts and relatively little government involvement in the economy. However, it does support the continued existence of the Norwegian welfare state.
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.
It is also in favour of Norwegian membership in the European Union, although stating that this is not a priority, nor realistic in the short term as Norwegians have rejected membership in two referendums and opinion polls show that two-thirds of Norwegians oppose membership.
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, drawing up political lines.
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