The parliament in its present form was first constituted at Eidsvoll in 1814, although its origins can be traced back to the allting, as early as the 9th century, a type of thing, or common assembly of free men in Germanic societies that would gather at a place called a thingstead and were presided over by lawspeakers. The alltings were where legal and political matters were discussed. These gradually were formalised so that the things grew into regional meetings and acquired backing and authority from the Crown, even to the extent that on occasions they were instrumental in effecting change in the monarchy itself.
As oral laws became codified and Norway unified as a geopolitical entity in the 10th century, the lagtings ("law things") were established as superior regional assemblies. During the mid-13th century, the by then archaic regional assemblies, the Frostating, the Gulating, the Eidsivating and the Borgarting, were amalgamated and the corpus of law was set down under the command of King Magnus Lagabøte. This jurisdiction remained significant until King Frederick III proclaimed absolute monarchy in 1660; this was ratified by the passage of the
King Act of 1665, and this became the constitution of the Union of Denmark and Norway and remained so until 1814 and the foundation of the Storting.
The Parliament of Norway Building opened in 1866.
World War II
On 27 June 1940 the presidium signed an appeal to King Haakon, seeking his abdication. (The presidium then consisted of the presidents and vice-presidents of parliament, Odelstinget and Lagtinget. Ivar Lykke stepped in (according to mandate) in place of the president in exile, C. J. Hambro; Lykke was one [of the six] who signed.)
In September 1940 the representatives were summoned to Oslo, and voted in favour of the results of the negotiations between the presidium and the authorities of the German invaders. (92 voted for, and 53 voted against.) However, directives from Adolf Hitler resulted in the obstruction of "the agreement of cooperation between parliament and [the] occupation force".
Qualified unicameralism (1814–2009)
Although the Storting has always been unicameral, until 2009 it would divide itself into two divisions for legislative purposes. After an election, the Storting would elect a quarter of its membership to form the Lagting, a sort of "upper house" or revising chamber, with the remaining three-quarters forming the Odelsting or "lower house". The division was also used on very rare occasions in cases of impeachment. The original idea in 1814 was probably to have the Lagting act as an actual upper house, and the senior and more experienced members of the Storting were placed there. Later, however, the composition of the Lagting closely followed that of the Odelsting, so that there was very little that differentiated them, and the passage of a bill in the Lagting was mostly a formality.
Lagting Hall, which also serves as the meeting room for the Christian Democratic Party
's parliamentary group. The Lagting was discontinued in 2009.
Bills were submitted by the Government to the Odelsting or by a member of the Odelsting; members of the Lagting were not permitted to propose legislation by themselves. A standing committee, with members from both the Odelsting and Lagting, would then consider the bill, and in some cases hearings were held. If passed by the Odelsting, the bill would be sent to the Lagting for review or revision. Most bills were passed unamended by the Lagting and then sent directly to the king for royal assent. If the Lagting amended the Odelsting's draft, the bill would be sent back to the Odelsting. If the Odelsting approved the Lagting's amendments, the bill would be signed into law by the King. If it did not, then the bill would return to the Lagting. If the Lagting still proposed amendments, the bill would be submitted to a plenary session of the Storting. In order to be passed, the bill required the approval of a two-thirds majority of the plenary session. In all other cases a simple majority would suffice. Three days had to pass between each time a chamber voted on a bill. In all other cases, such as taxes and appropriations, the Storting would meet in plenary session.
A proposal to amend the constitution and abolish the Odelsting and Lagting was introduced in 2004 and was passed by the Storting on 20 February 2007 (159–1 with nine absentees). It took effect with the newly elected Storting in 2009.
Number of seats
The number of seats in the Storting has varied: from 1882 there were 114 seats, from 1903 117, from 1906 123, from 1918 126, from 1921 150, from 1973 155, from 1985 157, from 1989 165 and from 2005 169 seats.