State Secretary (Norway)


In Norway, a state secretary (Norwegian: statssekretær) is a partisan political position within the executive branch of government. Contrary to the position secretary of state in many other countries, a Norwegian state secretary does not head his or her ministry, rather, they are second in rank to a minister. Resembling a de facto vice minister, the state secretary, however, cannot attend a Council of State, and does not act as a temporary minister in case of illness or other leave of absence.

Modern use

The modern state secretary institution was established in 1947, following a 78-41 vote in the Norwegian Parliament. The Labour and Communist parties voted for, whereas the Agrarian (Centre), Christian Democratic, Liberal, and Conservative parties voted against. The cabinet at that time was a single-party Labour cabinet led by Einar Gerhardsen, and one state secretary was appointed seven of the ministries. State secretaries in the Office of the Prime Minister followed in 1956,[1] having originally been known as Secretaries to the Prime Minister.[2] When the cabinet Lyng (Conservative, Christian Democratic, Centre, Liberal) assumed office in August 1963, they appointed state secretaries in nearly all ministries, and when the cabinet Korvald (Christian Democratic, Centre, Liberal) assumed office, it became the first cabinet to employ two state secretaries in one ministry.[1]

In 1968 the Conservative representative Paul Thyness, himself a former state secretary, had proposed a parliamentary resolution which requested the sitting cabinet to "take the function and status of State Secretary position into closer consideration." A public reporting committee convened in 1970; in 1971 Thyness became a member of this committee. In 1972, Thyness and fellow committee member Guttorm Hansen proposed four changes to the Norwegian Constitution in order to cement the state secretary position in Norwegian law. A Norwegian Official Report was also produced; in 1974 (NOU 1974: 18). In 1976 the constitutional change was passed, following a 146-9 parliamentary vote. The only party which opposed the change was the Anders Lange Party; its four representatives voted together with individuals from other parties. One proposal was scrapped, though; the idea that state secretaries should meet in parliamentary sessions, allowing for closer scrutiny of the executive branch of government by the legislative branch.[1]

Originally, the position was typically given to external technical experts or young politicians with little or no prior experience as elected politicians. In 1980, a landmark was made as Helen Bøsterud became the first state secretary with prior experience in parliament. However, this is still not the rule.[1] On the other hand, becoming a member of parliament or even minister after serving as a state secretary is common. Jan P. Syse (State Secretary 1970–1971) and Kjell Magne Bondevik (State Secretary 1972–1973) would serve as prime ministers,[3][4] and Thorvald Stoltenberg (State Secretary 1971–1972 and 1973–1979) and Jonas Gahr Støre (State Secretary 2000–2001) would serve as ministers of foreign affairs.[5][6]

Historical use

The title state secretary was first used in 1814. While Norway was still a part of Denmark, in March 1814, Crown Prince Christian Frederick created a Government Council (Regjeringsråd), with a regular secretary who was titled Secretary to the Government (Regjeringssekretær). According to the Norwegian Constitution of May 1814, the name of the Government Council was changed to Council of State, the secretary position being renamed to the state secretary at the same time. The name remained until 1925, when it was changed to Secretary to the Council of State (Statsrådsekretær). Following restructuring in 1969 and 1987, the position were transformed into a civil servant position in the Office of the Prime Minister, and is today known as Secretary to the Government (Regjeringsråd).[7]

List of current state secretaries

This is a list of the state secretaries in the second cabinet Stoltenberg, which governed Norway from 2005 to 2013.[8] Unless otherwise noted, the term started on 17 October 2005.

Ministry State secretary Period Party
Office of the Prime Minister Svein Fjellheim Labour
Torbjørn Giæver Eriksen Labour
Rita Skjærvik Labour
Kjersti Markusson 22 October 2007 – Socialist Left
Hilde Singsaas 1 December 2006 –
(acting since 17 March)
Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen 1 December 2006 – Labour
Per J. Jordal 3 March 2008 – Centre
Jan-Erik Larsen 15 September 2008 – Labour
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Raymond Johansen 28 October 2005 – Labour
Elisabeth Walaas 21 September 2007 – Labour
Håkon Gulbrandsen
(International Development)
16 November 2007– Socialist Left
Ministry of Defence Eirik Øwre Thorshaug Labour
Ministry of Industry and Trade Rikke Lind 26 January 2007 – Labour
Øyvind Slåke 14 December 2007 – Labour
Ministry of Government Administration
and Reform
Wenche Lyngholm 21 October 2005 – Socialist Left
Ministry of Finance Roger Schjerva Socialist Left
Geir Axelsen Labour
Roger Sandum Socialist Left
Ole Morten Geving 12 October 2007 – Centre
Henriette Westhrin 18 October 2007 – Socialist Left
Ministry of Local Government
and Regional Development
Aase Marthe J. Horrigmo[9] 17 January 2018 – Conservative
Dag-Henrik Sandbakken 21 October 2005 – Centre
Janne Sjelmo Nordås 2 November 2007 – Centre
Ministry of Health and Care Services Rigmor Aasrud 21 October 2005 – Labour
Kari Henriksen 3 December 2007 – Labour
Dagfinn Sundsbø 20 June 2008 – Centre
Ellen Birgitte Pedersen 27 June 2008 – Socialist Left
Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs Mette Gundersen 21 October 2005 – Labour
Wegard Harsvik 3 December 2007 – Labour
Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion Jan-Erik Støstad 21 October 2005 – Labour
Libe S. Rieber-Mohn 21 October 2005 – Labour
Laila Gustavsen 21 October 2005 – Labour
Raimo Valle 26 October 2007 – Labour
Ministry of Transport and Communications Geir Pollestad 8 October 2008 – Centre
Lars Erik Bartnes Centre
Ministry of Fisheries Vidar Ulriksen 21 October 2005 – Labour
Ministry of the Environment Henriette Killi Westhrin Socialist Left
Ketil Raknes Socialist Left
Ministry of Agriculture Ola T. Heggem 28 October 2005 – Centre
Ministry of Justice and Police Astri Aas-Hansen 9 February 2007 – Labour
Kristin Bergersen Labour
Pål K. Lønseth Labour
Ministry of Children and Equality Kjell Erik Øie 21 October 2005 – Labour
Ministry of Petroleum and Energy Liv Monica Bargem Stubholt 21 September 2007 – Centre
Robin Kåss 8 October 2008 – Labour
Ministry of Education and Research Lisbet Rugtvedt Socialist Left
Jens Revold 18 October 2007 – Socialist Left


  1. ^ a b c d Søberg, Morten (30 October 2008). "Den nye politiske klassen". Dag og Tid (in Norwegian). Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  2. ^ Einar Gerhardsen's Second Government. 5 November 1945 - 19 November 1951 –
  3. ^ JPS &tab=Biography "Jan P. Syse" Check |url= value (help) (in Norwegian). Storting.
  4. ^ KMB &tab=Biography "Kjell Magne Bondevik" Check |url= value (help) (in Norwegian). Storting.
  5. ^ "Thorvald Stoltenberg" (in Norwegian). Storting.
  6. ^ "Jonas Gahr Støre" (in Norwegian). Storting.
  7. ^ Secretary to the Council of State since 1814 –
  8. ^ Jens Stoltenberg's Second Government. 17 October 2005–present –
  9. ^ "State Secretary Aase Marthe J. Horrigmo (Conservative Party)". Government of Norway.