Politics For Members

The essential Norwegian words you need to know to understand today's election

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
The essential Norwegian words you need to know to understand today's election
Stortinget, The Norwegian Parliament. Photo: Mats Lindh/Flickr

Every language comes with its own political jargon, and Norway is no different. Here is the words and phrases you need to know to understand the election on Monday. 


Election season is well underway in Norway. The whole affair can be dizzying considering the complicated voting system, the nine political parties vying for votes, and the different combinations for potential coalition governments. That's before we even begin to consider all the political jargon. 

Below we'll break down some of the vocab and jargon you need to know so you can impress the locals when the topic of Stortingsvalg or parliamentary elections comes up. 

Furthermore, if you have trouble telling your SP's from SV's and get your KrF's mixed up with your FRP's then our guide to Norway's nine parties is perfect for you.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Norway’s nine political parties before the election

Valgløfte– election promises 

What's an election campaign without election promises?  The promises that the parties have made ahead of this years election could dramatically affect your life in Norway, so it's useful to know what each of them are offering.

If you want to take a deeper dive into each party's election promises, you can take a look at our breakdown of some of the key pledges here


Stortingnet- Norwegian parliament 

Stortinget or the Storting is the supreme legislative body in Norway and serves as Norway's parliament. The parliament is elected every four years via a party-list proportional representation electoral system. 

Forhåndsstemming- advanced voting 

This is a statistic Norwegian media loves to keep an eye on in the lead up to election day itself. So, once or twice a week, you may see a story on advance voting in the Norwegian media. 

Anyone eligible to vote in Norway can vote in advance between August 10th and September 10th. This year more than 1.6 million Norwegians voted in advance. 

Menigsmåling- opinion polls 

Opinion polls serve as a barometer for who voters are going to choose when they hit the ballot box in September, and they're worth keeping an eye on if you want to have a rough idea of which parties might be in power after the election. Just remember, the polls aren't always spot on. 


READ MORE: What you need to know about Norway's upcoming election

Flertallsregjering- majority government 

This is when a party or coalition has a majority of members elected into the Norwegian parliament, meaning they can form a majority government. 

A party or coalition must have secured at least 85 out of 169 seats to form a majority government in Norway. 

The most recent majority government came in 2019 when the Christian Democratic Party joined Erna Solberg's government. The majority lasted until January 2020, when the Progress Party walked out off government. 

A majority government has a much easier time getting their policy proposals through as there's no need to negotiate with the other parties. 


Mindretallsregjering- minority government 

Due to Norway's representative voting system, the majority of governments end up being minority coalitions, with other parties supporting the government.

Contrasting to majority governments, minority governments have a much tougher time of things in government. This is because they often need to broker deals with the other parties to get bills passed. 

Hjertesak- passionate cause 

A passionate cause that somebody feels very strongly about can be the deciding factor in what party a person chooses to vote for and the Norwegian word Hjertesak sums this up perfectly. 

For example, if somebody felt strongly about the environment, then they would vote for the Green Party. 

Sperregrense- election threshold

Directly translated as the "barrier limit", the sperregrense is a votes threshold that all the smaller parties hope to hit. Norway has a proportional voting system, and to prevent too many parties from entering government, an election threshold of four percent is in place.

This means parties have to hit the magic threshold of 4 percent of total votes nationwide to access "levelling seats" that reward parties with a high amount of support nationwide that don't win many seats outright.  

Commentators, pollsters and experts trying to decipher which parties will meet this threshold make for an interesting sub-plot to almost every election in Norway.  


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