The opening of Parliament (Stortinget) is a serious, ceremonial affair, and this year was no exception. King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon were there, in full regalia, while the often casually dressed members of Parliament were dressed up in dark suits, elegant dresses or national costumes.
Dag Terje Andersen, the former Labour Party minister who now serves as president of the parliament, made his own address in which he noted that Norway had come through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, but many young Norwegians still face difficulty finding work and the country’s petroleum fortunes are worth less than the value created by the workforce.
The highlight of the ceremonies, however, is the speech prepared by the government but delivered by the monarch. In it, King Harald read of possible new compromises between conservationists and ranchers on the sensitive issue of predators in Norway and new measures to lower the numbers of persons granted asylum in Norway, promote equal pay and address climate issues. An update on proposed management of natural resources in the Barents Sea and around Lofoten is also due.
Opposition politicians, as usual, dismissed the speech from the throne as lacking substance or vision. “This year’s speech was the shortest one I have heard,” complained the head of the Progress Party, Siv Jensen. “The absence of reform and new ideas was clear.”
One line in Andersen’s speech, though, brought traditional agreement from most of the politicians assembled for the festive occasion:
“God save the King and the Fatherland!”