Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.


Populism Rank: 26


Voter support, radical left in 2021: +2,3%.
Voter support, radical right in 2021: -2,5%.
Populist/authoritarian parties in government (March 2024): NONE

01 Speakers

Norway had a very stable party system with low volatility during the first post war decades. The Communist Party had a brief period of success directly after World War II but soon declined. The Social Democrats opposed them strongly, labelling them as extremists. Throughout the Cold War, the Communist Party remained loyal to Moscow.


The Socialist People’s Party was formed as a splinter from the Social Democrats in 1961 and was represented in parliament through the 1960s. The youth organisation drifted towards revolutionary ideas, leading to a split. The more radical section eventually formed the leftist Red Electoral Alliance, which for a long time only mobilised small sections of the electorate. In 2007, the Alliance was turned into a unified party called Red. It first entered parliament in 2017 and achieved its best result ever in 2021 with more than four percent of the votes. Red is radically left-wing on economic issues, progressive on social issues, strongly eurosceptic, and ambiguous towards its revolutionary ideological roots.

The Progress Party (FrP) was founded in 1973 by Anders Lange, originally as the “Anders Lange’s Party”, with the aim to lower taxes, reduce welfare benefits, and cut foreign aid. After Lange’s death in 1974, Carl I Hagen succeeded him and led the party’s resurgence in the 1981 election. In 1983, the FrP abandoned its previously ideology-free stance and adopted a libertarian ideology with a new policy program. However, it was not until the end of the decade, with increased focus on immigration issues, that the party made significant strides among Norwegian voters. 


FrP:s first major success came in the 1987 local elections, partly due to attention drawn by a letter from a Muslim immigrant predicting the Islamization of Norway no matter what politicians did to stop it, due to the sheer amount of muslim babies being born. It sparked a major debate. Hagen was later accused of forging the letter, dubbed the Mustafa letter, leading to a legal process. From then on, the party focused on reducing asylum immigration. The following year, the FrP surged in opinion polls and became the third-largest party in parliament in 1989. During this time, the party pushed for a referendum on refugee immigration.


However, the party’s libertarian faction persisted, leading to internal strife and declining support in the early 1990s. By the mid-1990s, immigration issues once again regained prominence in the national debate, leading to renewed popularity. In the early 2000s, the FrP reached new highs in opinion polls, but the 2001 election was a disappointment. Hagen aimed to make the party more cooperative, resulting in the departure and expulsion of radical immigration critics.

Carl I Hagen. Photo: FrPMedia

In 2006, after leading the party for 27 years, Hagen stepped down to become Vice President of the Norwegian parliament. Siv Jensen succeeded him with hopes of increasing the party’s appeal and potentially leading a future government. The Progress Party gained significant success in local elections in 2007, with its candidates becoming mayors in 17 municipalities. However, the party’s support declined leading up to the 2009 parliamentary elections, although it achieved its best result in history with 22 percent of the vote. Despite being previously shunned by other parties, the Conservative Party expressed willingness to collaborate with the Progress Party after the election. The Progress Party experienced setbacks in the 2011 local elections but later formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party after winning the 2013 parliamentary election. The liberal Venstre and the Christian Democrats initially provided confidence-and-supply but later joined the government.


In 2020, the FrP left the government, the triggering factor being the government decision to repatriate a woman with connection to the islamic state, but it also reflected underlying growing discontent. The other three parties continued as a minority government.


The Progress Party (FrP) has consistently leaned right on economic issues, oscillating between radical neoliberal ideas and centrism over time. It has maintained highly restrictive stances on migration issues but is relatively moderate on social matters. Unlike many nationalist and populist parties, FrP is pro-EU and is in fact among the more pro-European parties in Norway. FrP has no authoritarian baggage, has long avoided being subjected to a cordon sanitaire, and is now considered only borderline populist.

EP elections

Not a member of the European Union.

FRP summary

Economics: RIGHT
Social issues: MODERATE
Democratic credibility: HIGH

RED summary

Economics: LEFT
Social issues: PROGRESSIVE
Democratic credibility: MEDIUM