The Progress Party is a right-wing political party of Norway. It was founded on April 8, 1973 at a famous address held by the rugged individualist and popular public speaker Anders Lange. The party adopted its current name, (Norwegian: Fremskrittspartiet or shorter FrP), in 1977. In the 2001 parliamentary elections, it was the third largest party, with 14.6 percent of the votes and 26 seats. The current chairman is Carl I. Hagen.
The founder, Anders Lange, intended the party to be more like a protest movement than a regular political party. The protest was directed against what was perceived to be an unacceptably high level of taxes, subsidies, and regulations, against government interventionism, and against the social democrat "nanny state" (Norwegian: formynderstaten).
It started under the name of Anders Lange's Party for strong reductions of taxes, charges and government intervention or the Anders Lange Party, or ALP (Norwegian: Anders Langes Parti til sterk nedsettelse av skatter, avgifter og offentlige inngrep).
The objective of Anders Lange was to remind the Norwegian Conservative Party (Norwegian: Høyre), of its commitment to rightist values of individual liberty, civil society, and private property rights. According to Lange, the "socialist" government had grown too big, and the conservative party didn't seem to be bent on rolling back "big government". On the contrary, the conservatives had increased taxes and had done nothing to make government smaller, in Langes view.
Elective support - Storting
Year % Seats 1973 5,0 4 1977 1,9 0 1981 4,5 4 1985 3,7 2 1989 13,0 22 1993 6,3 10 1997 15,3 25 2001 14,6 26
The election in 1973 gave Anders Lange 5 percent, and four seats in the Storting -i.e. the Norwegian parliament.
In the parliamentary election in 1989 it got 13 percent and became the third largest party in Norway. It started to get some responsible position locally, but was still largly insignificant locally. In 1990 it got the chairman of Oslo, the capital city of Norway.
Because of inner tension, the 1993 election halved the party (6.3 percent and 10 representatives). See Norwegian parliamentary election, 1993. And, in 1994, four representatives of the "libertarian wing" broke out, formed an independent group in parliament, and founded a party more ideologically consistent libertarian, the Fridemokratene.
The election in 1997 gave Frp 15.3 percent, and again it was the third largest party. See Norwegian parliamentary election, 1997.
In the local election in 1999 the very popular local Progress Party leader Terje Søviknes was elected mayor i the Os, Hordaland municipality. 20 municipalities got a deputy mayor from the Progress Party.
Before the election 2001 Frp enjoyed a high level of popular support in 1999-2000. But its support fell back to 1997 levels at the election, following both internal scandals (then then second vice-chairman of the party Terje Søviknes, was involved in a sex-scandal) and the emergence of new inner tension. This time several so-called "populist" local representatives (Oslo) and parliamentarians resigned from the party. Some so-called "soloists" where suspended (Vidar Kleppe was suspended for two years) or excluded (Jan Simonsen). The "populists" formed the Democratic Party (Norwegian: Demokratene) with Vidar Kleppe as chairman.
In Norwegian parliamentary election, 2001, Frp lost its advance on polls, but maintained its position from the 1997 election, and got 14.6 percent and 26 members in the parliament.
Frp had run a campaign promising to unseat the Labor government of Jens Stoltenberg and kept that promise by supporting the new minority government of Kjell Magne Bondevik, although the three parties in that coalition declined to govern together with Frp.
In 2002 it regained its position on polls. For a while it became the largest party, with a strong leading in the in December 2002 (http://www.acnielsen.no/downloads/poldes02.pdf). It has since fallen behind the Norwegian Labour Party.
The local election in 2003 was a breakthrough for the party as a political player in Norwegian municipalities. In 30 municipalities the party gained more votes than any other party, but contrary to common practice it only succeded in seizing the position as mayor in 13 of the 30 municipalities. The Progress Party has participated in local elections since 1975, but until 2003 the party has only gained the mayoral position twice. A long period of insignificance in local politics has ended 1. The Progress Party vote in Os - the only minicipality that eleceted a Progress Party mayor in 1999 - increased from 36.6 % in 1999 to 45.7 % in 2003.1 The party gained ground across the contry, but more so in municipalities where the party had the mayor or the deputy mayor1.
Until now (Jan. 2004) it has contended for the position as the second largest party with the Norwegian Conservative Party and the Socialist Left Party. Currently (Jan. 2005), it has been stable around 20 percent on the polls, since January 2004.
- Anders Lange [1973 - 1974]
- Eivind Eckbo [1974 - 1975] (interim)
- Arve Lønnum [1975 - 1978]
- Carl I. Hagen [1978 - ] became the chairman of Frp in 1978, and has been practically uncontested. There has never been a really strong opposing candidate. Hagen has been determined to build up a strong party organization 2, and to move his party into the mainstream of Norwegian politics. Under his leadership Frp has played and increasingly important role in the Politics of Norway. In 2003 he declared that he was going to withdraw as chairman in 2006. His expected successor is the current vice-chairman, the economist Siv Jensen 3.
The platform of FRP for 2001-2005, start off with these words:
The Progress Party is a libertarian party. It builds on the Constitution of Norway, Norwegian and western traditions and cultural heritage with a basis in the Christian outlook on life. The main objective of the Progress Party is strong reduction in taxes, charges and government intervention. The fundament of the Progress Party's view of society is the belief in and respect for the uniqueness of the individual human being, and the right of the individuals to self-determination over their own life and economy.
As the party was founded just after the political upheaval that followed the 1972 EU referendum, the party was believed to be an ephemeral phenomenon, and the leader of the Conservative Party Kåre Willoch characterized it as a "may fly party" (Norwegian: døgnflueparti).
Another attack on the individualist Anders Lange Party was that it consisted of "rural nitwits" (Norwegian: bygdetulling). The former interim chairman Eivind Echbo has admitted to this criticism, saying that "The establishing of the party was just like putting out a cow barn lantern on a spring evening. All sorts of creatures came flying."
Its critics (http://politiskanalyse.no/intro.asp?show=18&arg=31) lumps it together with right-wing populists in Europe, because - the critics argue - like those parties it is skeptical towards immigration, tough on crime, against the EU, skeptical towards bureaucracy and governmental control, and it is arguing for reduced taxes and charges. The contention that it is against EU is an exaggeration. The national convention (Norwegian: landsmøte) of Frp has decided to put its representatives in a free position in their voting on the issue. The chairman Carl I Hagen has declared Frp to be to the left of the Conservative Party (Høyre).
Other critics claim its immigration policy is indecent, appealing to the fears of those concerned with foreign immigration. Frp denies this, arguing that its immigration policy is based on facts and is about real integration challenges. It claims to be the only party that does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity. Accusations and characterizations like these, as well as the comparisons with the Front Nationale in France or Haider’s Freedom Party in Austria, could be viewed as an expression of a heated power struggle and national power politics.
Other critics suggests that in a speech  (http://www.bearstrong.net/warblog/000744.html) (transcript, translated into English by Bjørn Stærk) held on July 13th, 2004, by the current Frp chairman Carl Ivar Hagen, might indicate that the accusations aren't completely without basis: "We Christians are deeply concerned with children. Jesus said, 'let the small children come to me.' I can't imagine that Muhammed could have said the same thing. [laughter] If he had, it would have been 'Let the small children come to me, so I can exploit them in my struggle to Islamify the world.'" But that particular quote should be interpreted in the context of what is said in the rest of that speech.
Arguably, its restrictive immigration policy is an important cause of its relatively strong standing on public opinion poll measurements (around 20 percent as of Sept. 2004).
Another criticism is that Frp chairman Carl Ivar Hagen has "instincts for changing the party's political views according to popular opinion", that "this has helped increase Frp's standing in the polls" and that "this this has caused other parties to charge that FrP is a flip-flopping party". However, there is no basis for such a criticism. On the contrary, reseach on voting patterns of the political parties in the Norwegian Storting, shows that FrP has a particularly concistent voting pattern.
- The Norwegian Progress Party: Building Bridges across Old Cleavages (http://www.samfunnsforskning.no/files/file21238_p_2004_04.pdf) by Tor Bjørklund and Jo Saglie, Norwegian Institute for Social Reseach.
- Predestined parties? organizational change in Norwegian political parties (http://www.essex.ac.uk/ECPR/events/jointsessions/paperarchive/grenoble/ws22/heidar.pdf), by Knut Heidar and Jo Saglie. The Causes and Consequences of Organisational Innovation in European Political Parties at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Grenoble, April 11, 2001.
- Jensen likely to take over Progress Party (http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article641103.ece)
- Sussex Migration Working Papers: A Matter of Decency? The Progress Party in Norwegian Immigration Politics (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/migration/publications/working_papers/mwp4.pdf), a paper on the part Frp plays in Norwegian immigration politics, by Anniken Hagelund, May 2001.
- Fremskrittspartiet (http://www.frp.no/) (Norwegian) Official site of the Norwegian Progress Party.
- Fremskrittspartiet ungdom (http://www.fpu.no/) (Norwegian) Official site of the Norwegian Progress Party, Youth.