What you should know.
Writer and historian Karsten Alnæs wrote a book about the Borwegian constitution for the commomeration in 2014. He points out that three revolutions actually happened in 1814. First, the bond with Denmark was suddenly broken. After 434 years under Danish rule, this came as a shock. Second, from being a small province, Norway became an independent nation with its own constitution. And third, from being part of an autocracy we became a democracy, as much as the times allowed. What we actually got was the first spring shoots of a democratic flowering.
Alnæs points out five elements everyone should know about the Norwegian Constitution:
- The People’s Power
The Constitution is built on the idea of a popular sovereignty, because the people elect the government.
The principal of equality is very prominent. Norway was the only state in Europe that abolished the titles of aristocracy (lords and ladies), and the right to vote was widely expanded. About 40% of eligible voters could vote, which was sensationally high for the time. General military service was also introduced.
- Declaration of Independence
The Norwegian Constitution is greatly influenced by the American, this section in particular. Norway is a self –declared free, independent, and inseparable kingdom.
- Freedom and Human Rights
The freedom of speech is very strong. Bold utterances regarding the government are at all times allowed. Alnæs thinks this paragraph was a result of Norwegians being sick and tired of being censored. Religious freedom, on the other hand, was not very well secured. The paragraph on the Jews was a particularly uncomfortable part of the constitution, which was removed in 1951.
- The Rule of Law
No law should have retroactive power. No man should be punished without a conviction. The authorities cannot perform a search without a search warrant. Rulings by judges are supreme.