Political Radicalisation and Social Movements in Liberated Norway (1945–1947)
In Norway, as in most western European countries, World War II and five years of German occupation led to a distinct political radicalisation. An obvious indicator was that in autumn 1945, the Norwegian Labour Party won a parliamentary majority for the first time in a general election. So began the ‘golden days’ of the Labour Party and the labour movement dominated by social democrats. The Labour party held a parliamentary majority until 1961 and was in power almost continually for 20 years. Moreover, the Norwegian Communist Party (NCP) received 11.9 per cent of the votes in the 1945 election, gaining parliamentary representation for the first time since the 1920s. Never before and never since did the so-called socialist parties hold such a large share of the votes—almost 53 per cent. The NCP had about 34,000 members in 1946 compared to Labour’s 170,000 members; about half of these were so-called collective party members through their local union membership. NCP’s principal daily, Friheten, had a daily circulation of 130,000, half of them among subscribers, making it the second largest paper in Norway, smaller only than the conservative paper Aftenposten, and probably the largest paper within all the Nordic countries’ labour movements at the time. Norway had 3.1 million inhabitants in 1945; half of them lived in sparsely populated areas and only a third in urban municipalities. A third of the labour force worked in manufacturing industries.