The Conservative Party of Norway
The Conservative Party’s mission statement
“The Conservative Party will pursue a conservative progressive policy based on Christian cultural values, constitutional government and democracy to promote personal freedom and social responsibility, co-determination and ownership rights, and a binding commitment to national and international cooperation.”
(Adopted at the National Convention in Stavanger in 1971)
Høyre was founded in 1884 after the parliamentary system was introduced in Norway. Emil Stang was elected the first leader of the party. Under his leadership, important principles for the work in Høyre were drawn up. Høyre was to be a social party of reforms that worked within the constitutional frames set by a parliamentary democracy. Høyre's support has varied quite a lot. 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. 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.
Høyre has always supported a policy that aims at stimulating growth in order to avoid unemployment and raise economic strength to solve necessary tasks in our society. Economic strength is required to build adequate health and social care, and by so doing give everybody the necessary security.
Around the turn of the century Høyre took the initiative to construct a modern communications network. After the First World War it was mainly a task for Høyre to work for the reconstruction of sound, economic politics. The vast difficulties in the economy at that time is best illustrated by the following example; In 1923 the Høyre government passed the resolution of introducing old-age insurance. Until 1936, however, the State's finances were not good enough to defend the realisation of this reform.
As the leading party in opposition in the post-war years Høyre fought against the Labour Party's regulating policy. Høyre wanted a stronger stimulation 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 Democrats was one of our coalition partners both in 1983-1986 and 1989-90.
At the parliamentary election in 1993 it was impossible to present a credible non-socialist government alternative because our 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. Our three focal areas this period were to establish a rise in quality in our educational system, lowered taxes and a higher service level in state sectors.
In the 2005 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 14.1 percent 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 percent of the votes, and 30 members in the present Storting.
In the 2013 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 26,8 percent of the votes, and 48 members in the present Storting.
The organization of Høyre
A political party is a community of people where individuals agree on many vital questions and feel they have a basic common view on the society. The party becomes a foundation for co-operation, common opinions lead to action. By increasing the number of supporters, the chances for success increases. Behind the elected organs, where people can follow the political discussion and see the result of the party's activity, there is a democratic party organization. Approximately 32.000 paying members in Høyre are organized in about 400 local party units.
The top organ in Høyre is the National Convention which assembles once a year. Delegates from the county organizations, members of the Parliament representing Høyre, The Central Board and Cabinet Ministers (when in Government) attend the National Convention. The National Convention adopts the party platform, elects the party leader every second year, adopts laws, discuss important political issues and adopts statements from the party.
The upper organ of the party between every National Convention is the Central Board. According to party rules the Central Board shall meet at least seven times a year. The Central Board consists largely of representatives from every county, and members of the Executive Committee.
The Central Board deals with important matters of organizational work, like plans, budget etc. Additionally the Central Board always discusses the political situation and takes part in drawing up the broader political lines.
The daily work in the party is led by the Executive Committee with its leader, deputy leaders, a Committee member, the leader of the Parliamentary Group, Leader of the Conservative Women Network, leader of Young Conservatives and possible leader of Government. The Executive Committee meets every week and treats all current matters of political, organizational and administrative character.
In general you will find similar organs, Convention, Board and Executive Committee at county and municipal level in Høyre.
The organization and the tasks
The political work in Høyre takes place at three levels; national, county and municipal. National politics is based upon the platform passed by the National Convention. The county politics is based upon the county platform. Our representatives in the municipal councils follow the platforms made up and passed by the local party units. Before the sessions, either held in Parliament or in city halls, there are caucus meetings of party representatives where current matters are discussed within the party. Although the representatives are elected by the people the party has the responsibility for the platform, which is presented to the voters before each election.
Høyre has local units in just about every municipality in the country and a secretariat in most counties. The elected representatives have the local political and organizational responsibility in the party. In a relatively big organisation like Høyre, with approximately 32.000 members and activities to win even more members and voters, a solid and continuous work from each local unit is quite necessary. There are about 10.000 active members who take part in this work.
Programme of Principles
The Conservative Party will pursue a conservative policy, aimed at progress and based on Christian cultural values, democracy and the rule of law to promote personal freedom and social responsibility, co-determination and the right of ownership, as well as a commitment to national and international co-operation.
1. The Conservative Party’s view of mankind
All people are created different, but inherently and inviolably equal.
Given that all people are created equal, regardless of individual attributes, traits and group affiliations, all people have the right to life, to protect their own lives and to be protected.
Given that all people are created different, each with his or her own distinctive nature and personal feelings, ideas and preferences, the right to life is also a right to liberty.
People are social beings who can realise their potential only through interaction with others. Accordingly, rights only make sense when they are accompanied by the obligation to respect the rights of others. Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
To promote positive development opportunities, the Conservative Party’s politics are based on faith in people as individuals.
The Conservative Party’s view of society
Basic human rights can only be realised through a social system based on the rule of law, democracy and freedom of expression. Man’s ability to dispense justice makes democracy possible. Man’s predilection for injustice makes democracy imperative.
The State’s exercise of authority presupposes that citizens’ freedom be curtailed only by laws enacted to ensure respect for the rights and freedoms of others. Respect for common rules and the right of the majority to rule are not, in themselves, measures of the quality of democracy. Of equal importance are the majority’s willingness to respect the rights of the minority and to set limits for what should be decided through the political decision-making process.
The State exists to serve society-at-large and to protect individuals from injustice. Respect for individuals’ freedom, right of ownership and legal safeguards are important guarantees in this respect.
The freedom to believe, think and hold opinions is unlimited. The freedom to pursue happiness, to create, to affiliate with groups, and to express oneself is a basic human right. Such rights must only be limited to the extent to which they are used to infringe upon the freedom of others. Legal rules and the threat of punishment can only set the outside limits for an individual’s exercise of his or her rights. Within these limits, morality must motivate appropriate conduct.
The right of private ownership is a prerequisite for personal safety, independence, responsibility and prudent resource management. The Conservative Party will oppose the concentration of political and/or economic power by promoting the development of a democracy based on private ownership which encourages the distribution of property.
Legal protection is based on the government treating all citizens equally, and on all people having the right to defend their interests in court, even when the State is the opposing party. It is important not only that the State lays down legal rules to protect freedom with regard to inter-personal relations, but also that the State itself is bound by legislation and rules, and that infringements of such regulations can be tried in a free, independent court of law.
Meanwhile, freedom also requires a firm anchorage in something more than fleeting current events, that is, in knowledge as the basis for freedom of choice and as protection from want, crime and external threats. The Conservative Party believes the State bears a responsibility for helping ensure the social imperatives that facilitate freedom.
Well-developed democracies exercise their policies through elections in which all citizens have an equal opportunity to exert political influence. The Conservative Party will support reforms which better ensure this.
Given that all people are different, relations between individuals and groups may be open to conflicts of interest. Policies are not devised to eliminate conflicts of interest, but to lay down the parameters within which conflicts of interest can be resolved. As a conservative body, it is important for the Conservative Party to strike a balance in the areas of tension between the individual and society, freedom and responsibility, rights and obligations.
The Conservative Party’s efforts towards these ends will be based on Christian cultural values, the rule of law, democracy and our common historical legacy. This implies tolerance and respect for man’s inalienable nature and rights, as well as for our shared responsibility for nature and the environment. The Conservative Party will strive to protect the values that have shaped society and culture, based on recognition of the fact that each generation should leave its descendants a spiritual and cultural legacy based on previous generations’ experience and efforts.
At the same time, the Conservative Party supports change when it is essential for protecting basic human values. To achieve this, political efforts are necessary, but not sufficient. The influence of policies is limited by conditions outside their control, so policies must be limited to dealing with conditions within their control.
Given its conservative view of mankind and society, the Conservative’s Party’s task is to promote respect for others, freedom and anchorage, personal responsibility and shared social responsibility, management responsibility and international co-operation.
2. Respect for others
The Conservative Party bases its policies on respect for other individuals’ inviolable value.
The right to life is a basic human right. The Conservative Party believes that human life has inviolable value. The value of human life cannot be measured on other scales. Every individual has the right to have his or her life protected by society and other individuals. This means the State cannot sentence a person to death. Nonetheless, capital punishment must remain an option insofar as war crimes are concerned.
The right to liberty is also a basic human right. Consideration for protecting human worth and the right to liberty may conflict. As the right to liberty is based on respect for human worth, it cannot entail the freedom to infringe upon human worth.
Legislation on questions of medical ethics related to when life begins, is maintained, and ends must be based on these principles. Technological possibilities to intervene in natural biological processes will continue to change constantly, but the Conservative Party is of the opinion that ethics should set the limits for how technology is used, not the other way round.
Induced termination of pregnancy is a difficult issue, given the principle regarding the protection of human life. Notwithstanding, the Conservative Party has opted to support women’s right to choose, within the statutory parameters that apply, whether or not a termination should be induced. The State has a responsibility to provide counselling and the support needed to help reduce the number of women who feel induced terminations are necessary.
Based on its regard for human worth, the Conservative Party will continuously re-evaluate the limits and rules that apply to legally induced terminations. Given that all human life is of equal value, regardless of individual attributes and qualities, the Conservative Party is of the opinion that legal rules must be formulated to avoid any classification of human life based on attributes.
The Conservative Party is against the legalisation of active euthanasia. Society cannot authorise physicians to act in a manner contrary to all medical ethics as defined by the culture in which we live. Nor should it be a public sector responsibility to determine whether a human life lacks meaning or is not worth living. The goal must be to ensure that the care offered at the end of life’s journey is adequate to ensure a sense of security, integrity and community.
While genetic and biotechnology research create new opportunities for improving human living conditions, they can also raise new ethical dilemmas. The Conservative Party will apply the “ounce of prevention” principle to the application of genetic and biotechnology research, meaning explicit approval would be required to expand into new areas of activity. Acknowledging how difficult it would be for Norway to prevent methods accepted in other countries, the Conservative Party will work to achieve binding international rules in the fields of gene research and biotechnology. Meanwhile, it is essential that researchers and those who apply research results feel a sense of responsibility and self-imposed justice. The Conservative Party is against opening the door to germ cell therapy, which can alter individuals’ genetic make-up.
Respect for diversity
All individuals shall be accepted and treated as equal. This equality applies regardless of nationality, gender, age, religion, ethnic affiliation, physical disabilities or sexual preferences. It is crucial that society appreciates individuality and encourages diversity. Attempts to force individuals to conform undermine equality and respect for diversity.
Norwegian society is becoming increasingly multi-cultural and pluralistic in terms of values. Norms are changing. There is an emergence of new perceptions of and attitudes towards equal status, different beliefs and sexuality. Along with other cultural influences, immigration has made its mark on Norway as a country which is home to a greater variety of skin colours, languages, religions and ways of life than at any other time in its history. Diversity is not alien or transitory. Norway itself is becoming more diverse.
The Conservative Party considers diversity an advantage. A society that respects individuals’ right to live in accordance with their own traditions offers more choices and encourages everyone to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. Assuming we can strike a balance between individual freedom and personal responsibility, diversity will nourish spiritual and material values for society as a whole as well as for individuals.
Equality, rather than conformity, is the goal of a society that respects diversity. A demand for conformity can threaten equality and liberty. Financial differences are not a problem per se, but poverty and tendencies to make people social outcasts must be countered by ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of social background.
Protection of privacy
Individuals are entitled to protection of their privacy. The proliferation of new technology entails that the private sphere is growing increasingly transparent and verifiable. It is important to protect the right to privacy with regard to private interests as well as public agencies.
No one should be subject to individually-oriented research without the fully informed consent of the individuals themselves or their guardians. Individuals have the right to limit the dissemination of identifiable information about themselves. No one shall have the right to demand certain types of information, e.g. genetic information, unless specifically warranted by law.
To safeguard personal integrity, the Conservative Party advocates restrictive practices with respect to electronic registration, linkages and the distribution of personal information. The scope of surveillance should be limited to what can be proved to be absolutely necessary.
3. Freedom and anchorage
The Conservative Party will strive to strengthen the social conditions required to ensure freedom and opportunities for individuals.
It is a fundamental political task to protect freedom by enacting legal rules, then backing them up with sanctions. To safeguard the rights of the individual, protect life, liberty and property, and facilitate objective conflict resolution, the community must have instruments of power. This power must be strictly controlled, ensure respect for others and seek to safeguard social harmony.
A free nation must have the ability to defend its freedom. The Conservative Party sees peace in freedom as decisive for maintaining democracy and the rule of law. The Armed Forces are an insurance policy for Norway, independent of any military threat. The Conservative Party recognises that a military threat can emerge far more quickly than a military organisation can be built up. The Armed Forces’ combat proficiency must be maintained at a level which takes this into account.
Individuals are responsible for defending their country against outside threats. Compulsory conscription must be a credible programme, treating all involved parties equally.
Crime threatens the social order, safety and harmony of society, and expresses a lack of respect for other people. To protect human life, liberty, good health and property, society must have an effective law enforcement and judicial system. The methods used by the police must reconcile demands for the effective prosecution of criminals with legal protection for the rights of innocent individuals. To reinforce the legal protection afforded to individuals, the Conservative Party advocates placing a limit on the length of time individuals can be placed in remand, and that the remand system be brought into line with international conventions.
The present system involving a large number of laymen in the legal system ensures that they make a direct contribution to the development of the legal system and provide a popular foothold for decisions. Accordingly, the Conservative Party supports continued development based on the principles underlying the present system.
Independent social institutions
A free society requires institutions which are spiritually and intellectually independent. Should their existence be dependent on the State or strong concentrations of power, they could be prevented from exercising their independence and developing freely. Consequently, the Conservative Party recommends that such organisations be made more independent in organisational and financial terms.
Freedom of choice and action call for information and knowledge about the consequences of our choices. The dissemination of knowledge leads to the dissemination of power in society, resulting in security as well as opportunities for individuals. Knowledge conveys culture and identity, engenders attitudes, and provides spiritual and material nourishment for individuals and society-at-large. The Conservative Party attaches considerable importance to providing all those who live in Norway adequate and equal opportunities to acquire knowledge and education.
In a changing society, it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict what type of knowledge we will need in future. This means basic knowledge is becoming increasingly important, and that schools and educational opportunities should be more varied. The Conservative Party favours the application of stringent requirements to the quality of education.
The State must respect parental rights. Parents should have a say in their children’s education and the right to choose, along with their children, which schools they will attend. Financial schemes should promote diversity and competition, from primary school through university.
In a well-diversified knowledge society, knowledge will be disseminated through many channels other than the public school system, e.g. private educational alternatives, further education, the media, a strong library system and a broad variety of cultural experiences.
Research should be independent and not controlled by politics. Politicians must limit their activities to distributing resources and defining the ethical limits to apply to research and the application of research results. It is important to maintain the independence of research institutions and cultural institutions, as well as to contribute to funding opportunities other than public funding.
The authorities have a responsibility to support culture and ensure that it is part of the common heritage passed on to coming generations. The Conservative Party applies the classic concept of culture which implies a lasting enlightenment or refinement of values. The Conservative Party recognises the intrinsic value of art, both as an expression of and contribution to creativity and innovation. The framework that surrounds us is also important for generating a sense of community, and high aesthetic and architectural standards should take precedence over short-term financial constraints.
It is essential that cultural activities not be unilaterally dependent on the authorities for their funding and terms of work. Access to alternate sources of funding, for example, tax exemptions for donations, could reduce the dependence of cultural activities on the State and enhance the role of culture in society and the social debate.
Independent organisations are important, be they employers’ organisations, volunteer organisations for religious or non-profit purposes, or political organisations. The Conservative Party is of the opinion that organisations should be as independent of the State as possible. At the same time, based on the distinctive nature of each organisation, they can help resolve many important common tasks. The tax system should treat organisations equally and encourage voluntary donations.
Independent institutions ensure the balance of power and provide valuable correctives to State policies. For its part, the State should become less dependent on organisations and organised special interest groups that tend to fragment overall governance and set aside the interests of weak groups. For the Conservative Party, it is important to limit the power of special interest groups and strengthen the political institutions that bear general overall responsibility. The Conservative Party wishes to reduce special interest groups’ influence on State agencies.
Information and the public debate
The Conservative Party supports the broadest possible definition of freedom of expression. People should not be punished for their opinions or attitudes. At the same time, no one can demand that society protect their freedom of expression if their expressions entail threats or encourage others to break the law. Where freedom of expression is in any way constrained by Norwegian law, the constraint is motivated by legal protection of the individual.
The media must have full editorial freedom and be totally independent of the State. To ensure the role of the media as a corrective in the social debate, the Conservative Party supports strong legal protection of sources.
Press subsidies should be abolished. Ethical awareness should first and foremost be handled by the media themselves and their staff members. Public licensing schemes which could impede or limit freedom of expression should be abolished. At the same time, there should be legal rules against the concentration of power insofar as media ownership is concerned.
Financial freedom Protection for the right of ownership and free trade in economic goods ensures the welfare of individuals and the affluence of society-at-large. The right of ownership is also important as an incentive for people to take responsibility; having the right to harvest the fruits of one’s own labour is a positive incentive, and being obliged to suffer the consequences if something goes wrong promotes responsible actions. Only special circumstances can justify infringing the right of ownership, for example, through taxation or regulation. One important aspect of a freehold democracy is that anyone who so desires has the right to own his or her own dwelling.
A smoothly functioning market is based on voluntariness. The right of private ownership and the market economy have turned out to be prerequisites for the development of democracy and financial communities that engender affluence, diversity and freedom, and for a trend that takes account of the ecological balance and the welfare of future generations.
Just as the long-term stability and welfare of society depend on the market economy, the market economy is dependent on a state governed by the rule of law, with well-developed institutions and high moral standards. The market economy has its limitations. It is not able to produce common benefits where there is little individual willingness to pay for them, or to manage natural resources for which there is no individual right of ownership, or to achieve distribution policy goals where people lack the ability to pay. Accordingly, is a political task to ensure the right of ownership, the right to establish businesses and equal competitive terms, to intervene against private and public monopolies, to protect nature and consumers, to monitor the use of common resources and to protect public distribution policy.
The public sector bears responsibility for funding requisite benefits which the market does not handle, but performance of these duties should be left to the private sector insofar as possible. Public and private sector activities should have equal working conditions. The public sector collects taxes to perform certain duties for the common good. Accordingly, the Conservative Party is of the opinion that it is incumbent upon the public sector to ensure that the services offered are of high quality, and have been procured in the most cost-efficient manner possible.
The Conservative Party believes it is right to reduce the public sector’s share of the economy. To accomplish this, the Conservative Party feels the State should not be involved in commercial interests or manufacturing, where it is possible to create a smoothly functioning market without State involvement. The Conservative Party would also like to see Norwegian business and industry be as independent as possible of direct and indirect public subsidies, and to allow production costs, including environmental costs, to be reflected in the market value of production inputs insofar as possible. Labour law and income determination must be flexible.
Human efforts and imagination engender affluence. It is not possible to create wealth simply by resolving to do so. It is, however, possible to facilitate it or to squelch it. Thus the goal of politics in relation to the market is to help provide stable general conditions to promote equal opportunities.
Man has the right to control his own labour. Work provides an independent and secure basis for personal development and freedom of action. The state’s responsibility is to pursue a policy that stimulates the creation of profitable jobs.
The objective of the tax system is to ensure the revenues required to run the public sector, so the system should be as simple and fair as possible. The level of taxation should be as high as necessary and as low as possible. A low burden of taxation promotes initiatives and innovation, and enhances people’s opportunities to support themselves.
Technology is developing at an ever increasing pace. Generally speaking, this opens up new possibilities for the treatment of disease and injuries, provides new products to make life easier, and increases affluence. Yet progress also presents new ethical and moral challenges in relation to the application of technology. The Conservative Party wants Norway to be at the forefront of technological development, and to take advantage of the o