Norway celebrate Bicentenary of its Constitution 

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February 16th marks the official start of the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution and its independence from Denmark.

At the beginning of 1814 Norway was still under Danish rule. At the end of the year, Norway was in a union with Sweden. In the meantime, however, the Norwegian people and a poor, small country grasped the opportunity that arose when the major national powers were settling things after the Napoleon Wars. The Norwegians declared themselves free and independent, and passed one of the most liberal constitions at the time.

 

On February 16, 1814, Danish Prince Christian Frederik and Norwegian lords met at Eidsvoll. There they decided to form a national committee that would give Norway its own constitution.

Prince Christian Fredrik realized that he would have to be chosen by the people’s representatives if he would become a Norwegian king. Being a heir to the throne was simply not enough, and the Norwegian people had successfully  taken over the power and changed the country’s entire political framework.

The committee at Eidsvoll ensured that the focus was on the individual and his/her own rights in the constitution that was written in 1814. They looked to the U.S. and France for inspiration, which also meant a revolutionary new look on the citizens’ role in society, human rights and division of power.

Today, Norway’s constitution is the world’s second oldest acting constitution. Only the U.S. consitution is older and still in effect. That alone says a lot about the men at Eidsvoll’s capabillity to look ahead of their own time.

The 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution officially started on Sunday, and will be celebrated with different events and exhibitions throughout 2014. For the full program, see the government’s website dedicated to the anniversary: https://www.stortinget.no/en/Grunnlovsjubileet/In-English/

(VG/Aftenposten)

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