Norway is a constitutional monarchy, with legislative power being vested in its unicameral parliament. The Parliament’s 169 members are directly elected by a system of proportional representation for four-year terms. It is led by a presidium consisting of a President and five vice-presidents. This system replaced a bicameral one during the country’s 2009 election. The most recent election was held in 2013, with the next scheduled for 2017.
Draft bills or resolutions, respectively proposing either new laws or revisions to existing legislature, are introduced to Parliament either (most commonly) upon the proposal of the government, or by individual Members of Parliament. Propositions made by the government undergo a lengthy initial process of inter-agency input and debate, being formally prepared by the relevant ministry and presented to the monarch for approval before being sent to Parliament. The Parliament in turn refers bills and resolutions to the relevant standing committee (of which there are 12). These committees consider each bill and resolution in detail and often make changes to them before presenting any recommendations on legislative matters to Parliament for a vote. A bill can be read to Parliament and voted on up to three times before a final decision is reached. In order for an approved bill to be enacted, it must be signed by the monarch, in a process known as ‘Royal Assent’, and counter-signed by the Prime Minister. The constitution technically grants the monarch the right to withhold Royal Assent, though this has never occurred in modern history and the constitution allows for any royal veto to be ultimately overridden by Parliament.
As well as proposing bills and resolutions, the government may also submit White Papers to the Parliament, which either report on an issue within a particular field or outline future government policy. They are drawn up when the government wishes to present matters to the Parliament that do not require a decision. These documents, and the subsequent discussion of them in the Parliament, often form the basis of a draft resolution or bill at a later stage.
Any administration requires the support of the Parliament to have its bills passed by Parliament and minority governments often adjust their proposals in order to remain in office. Having experienced over 30 years of coalition or minority governments, a result of the proportional representation voting system, an emphasis on consensus is well entrenched in the legislative process.