Norwegian Labor Party

Norwegian Labor Party

 

(Det Norske Arbeiderparti), a political party founded in August 1887 at a congress in Aren-dal. The Norwegian Labor Party participated in the founding of the Second International in 1889 and adopted its first socialist program in 1891.

Reformist tendencies appeared in the policies of the party’s leaders almost from the beginning. A left opposition arose in the party between 1906 and 1911 and was strengthened under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The left wing, led by O. K. Grepp, gained the ascendancy at the 1918 Congress and the next year brought the party into the Comintern. In 1921 the advocates of a right-wing course left the party to found the Norwegian Social Democratic Labor Party. Centrists, led by M. Tranmæl, gained control of the party in 1922 and opposed the Comintern line. The disagreements culminated in the party’s withdrawal from the Comintern in 1923 and another split in the party itself. Members of the left wing resigned from the party and founded the Communist Party of Norway on Nov. 4, 1923. In 1927 the Labor Party merged with the Social Democratic Labor Party. In the years following, the party’s goals and programs (O. Thorpe, chairman) were those of a typical social-reformist party. The party won a decisive victory in the 1933 parliamentary elections and became the governing party in 1935. Its leader, J. Nygaardsvold, served as prime minister from 1935 to 1945. During the occupation of Norway by fascist Germany from 1940 to 1945 members of the party joined the resistance movement and its leaders went into exile.

The social reforms enacted by Labor governments, headed by E. Gerhardsen, between 1946 and the 1960’s improved the living conditions of the working people but did not solve basic social and economic problems. The foreign policy of the Social Democratic leadership is oriented toward imperialist groupings; Norway joined NATO in 1949.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s the crisis in the reformist policies of the right-wing Labor leaders became more acute. A number of left-wing Social Democrats left the party in 1961 and formed the Socialist People’s Party. In the 1965 parliamentary elections the Labor Party lost its majority in parliament and became an opposition party for the first time in 30 years. The government formed in 1971 by the Labor leader T. Bratteli resigned in October 1972 when its attempt to draw Norway into the European Economic Community was defeated in a referendum held in September 1972. In 1973 a group (the so-called Democratic Socialists) that opposed the leadership’s rightist course left the party. In 1975 the Labor Party had 172,000 members, both groups and individuals. The head of the party is R. Sten, elected in 1975, and its main press organ is the newspaper Arbeiderbladet.

REFERENCES

Arbeidernes leksikon, vol. 2. Oslo, 1933.
Det norske Arbeiderpartis historie 1887–1937. Edited by Haldvan Koht. Oslo, 1937.
Gerhardsen, E. Fellesskap i krig og fred. Oslo, 1971.

V. K. FADIN [18–343–1; updated]

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