Gro Harlem Brundtland's first government


October 17, 2021

Gro Harlem Brundtland's first government was appointed on February 4, 1981 and set for October 14 of that year. Gro Harlem Brundtland took over from party colleague Odvar Nordli. However, a clear turn to the right in the subsequent election in September led to a bourgeois majority in the Storting, and the government therefore had to resign after only eight months and ten days.


At the end of the 1970s, the Norwegian Labor Party was marked by a harrowing power struggle. In 1979, Gro Harlem Brundtland was fired by the government against his will, with the official explanations that it was unfortunate that both the party's leader and deputy leader sat in the government, and that Brundtland would gain useful political experience by working in the Storting. Parts of the press wrote, however, that the reason was that she had come to blows with both the trade union movement by LO leader Tor Halvorsen and Minister of Petroleum and Energy Bjartmar Gjerde. Throughout 1980, the contradictions in the party leadership became stronger. In January, party chairman Reiulf Steen conspired with LO leader Halvorsen to overthrow Nordli, and the plans were reproduced in large headlines in VG after leaks from Steen's close associate Arvid Engen. Steen himself wanted to take over as prime minister, but after several of his supporters heard about the campaign against the prime minister, Steen lost a lot of support in the party leadership. Tor Halvorsen and Tor Aspengren contacted Nordli in September 1980 with demands that the prime minister resign. Nordli had long had health problems, and is said to have agreed to resign. The two main candidates to take over were Bjartmar Gjerde and Rolf Hansen, with the latter as the clear favorite. Shortly afterwards, however, Steen went out internally in support of Nordli, to which both Aspengren and Brundtland reacted strongly. Brundtland had once again been kept out of the government during the recent reshuffles, and now believed that it was time to get rid of both Nordli and Steen. to see the end of the act of prime minister. Nordli himself wanted Hansen as successor, and in December he made sure to put the supposed opponent Bjartmar Gjerde on the sidelines by making him NRK boss. In January 1981, Nordli informed the party leadership that he was considering resigning. At the turn of the month, the Workers' Press Office (AP) heard about the plans, and there was quickly great confusion in the newsrooms. NTB sent out a message with the AP as a source that the prime minister resigned (something Kveldsnytt managed to get along with), while Arbeiderbladet the next day came with two front pages - one where the prime minister resigned, and one where Nordli denied that he resigned. Nordlis time was now out, and on the evening of 1 February, the six central Labor leaders were gathered to appoint a new prime minister. The majority of these are said to have wanted Rolf Hansen, but Hansen surprised everyone (except Brundtland) by refusing the offer to take over. Nordli thought the question had been cleared with Hansen in advance, and must have had problems understanding that Hansen said no. Hansen, for his part, proposed Brundtland, which was unanimously adopted. The meeting was over in half an hour, with the result that Gro Harlem Brundtland became the new prime minister and Labor front figure.




Hansson, Steinar and Teigene, Ingolf Håkon (1992). Power and Manpower: The Story of Gro Harlem Brundtland. Cappelen. ISBN 82-02-13808-6. CS1 maintenance: More names: author list (link)

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