Friday, August 13, 2010

Union Dissolution and Popular Vote

Postcard promoting the 'correct' voting option, August 13, 1905A century and five years ago today, a Norwegian referendum was held to approve the “already completed dissolution” of the union with Sweden.

The question was asked in such a way that if you participated in the voting you would anyhow concur that the union dissolution had taken place – and that it was legitimate and constitutionally in order. As Norwegian historian Nils Ivar Agøy put it, it was a question similar to the question “have you stopped beating your wife?”

The fact is that the act of the Norwegian Parliament on June 7, 1905 was constitutional coup d'état – asserting Parliament as the ultimate, sovereign power. We had a mixed government constitutional monarchy. The politicos showed no respect for that.

August 13, 1905 was a Sunday. Flags were all over the churches, and typically the priest gave his pro-dissolution sermon, and then the parish went to the polls.

There were 184 nays nation-wide. Tolerance for opposition was virtually non-existent. An oppositional pamphlet had to be published in Denmark, as no publisher in Norway would do it.

No comments: