The State Opening of the Storting
The State Opening of the Storting is one of the rare occasions on which members of the Storting, the entire Government and the Royal Family are gathered in an official ceremony. This year, the State Opening of the 168th Storting will take place on Tuesday 3rd October.
All three branches of the state – the legislative, the executive and the judicial – are represented at the same event. This includes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and a delegation from the Supreme Court, who are seated in the Supreme Court’s box in the Storting Chamber. A variety of other civilian and military officials as well as the Royal Court and invited guests also attend the ceremony.
A ceremony based in the Constitution
The King or his acting regent formally opens the Storting each autumn in accordance with procedures that have been enshrined in Article 74 of the Constitution since 1814:
"As soon as the Storting is constituted, the King, or whoever he appoints for the purpose, shall open its proceedings with a speech, in which he shall inform it of the state of the realm and of the issues to which he particularly desires to call the attention of the Storting. No deliberations may take place in the presence of the King."
The procedures surrounding the State Opening of the Storting can be traced to the election of the King at Eidsvoll in 1814. There, the King was escorted by a number of trusted senior officials. To carry on this tradition, the Government now invites civilian and military representatives to participate in a procession of senior officials. As in 1814, the King’s adjutants continue to take their position alongside the King on the podium.
The Queen and the Crown Prince also take part in the opening of the Storting. When the King and his entourage arrive at the Storting, they are welcomed by a deputation comprising seven Members of the Storting (MPs). The deputation’s members are appointed at the sitting in which the Storting constitutes itself; the choices are made on the basis of a county-by-county list of MPs. The deputation receives the King and his entourage at the main entrance at Løvebakken. It then accompanies them for the duration of their stay in the building.
When the King and the Government leave the Storting Chamber, the procession of senior officials flanks the red carpet in the Central Hall.
A rearranged Storting Chamber
The Storting Chamber is rearranged for the formal State Opening. The throne is positioned where the President of the Storting and the speaker's rostrum normally stand. A table for the Storting's President and Secretary is placed in the semicircle in front of the MPs' seats.
The Speech from the Throne
During the State Opening the King makes the Speech from the Throne, as prescribed in the Constitution. These days, the speech is written by the Government rather than the King himself, and the King is handed the speech by the Prime Minister during the ceremony. In the Speech from the Throne, the King reads out the plans for the Government’s policies in the coming year.
After this, one of the members of the Government reads out the State of the Realm Address. The Government itself selects which of its ministers reads out this Address, though the responsibility is usually given to the youngest minister in the Government. Traditionally, this speech is made in Nynorsk (New Norwegian).
The Constitution states that no deliberations or debate may take place in the presence of the King. This means that the Storting session may not continue until the King has left the premises. Only then may the Storting decide to submit for deliberation the Speech from the Throne and the State of the Realm Address, and adjourn the sitting.
Debate on the Speech from the Throne and the Government’s political platform
In most years, the Storting debates the Speech from the Throne the day after the State Opening of the Storting. In election years, when the sitting Government has given notice that it will resign due to electoral defeat, the debate is usually postponed until the new Government has prepared its political platform. On these occasions, the Speech from the Throne and the new political platform may be debated jointly in the Storting.
Last updated: 25.09.2023 14:39