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sions in three successive Storthings, on the third occasion it becomes the law of the land without the royal assent. The ground-law, sworn to between the king and the people in 1814, fixes and defines this right so distinctly, that it cannot be got over, without overturning that compact. It presumes that, if, during six successive years, the nation by its representatives three times declares a measure beneficial, the king's ministers must be wrong, and the nation right. This right has not remained dormant. The abolition of hereditary nobility in Norway was made law by its exertion. This legislative body is elected in the following way.
Every native Norwegian of twenty-five years of age, who has been for five years owner or life-renter of land paying scat or tax, or who is a burgess of any town, or possesses there a house or land to the value of 150 dollars (L.30), is entitled to elect and to be elected; but for this last privilege, he must be not under thirty years of age, must have resided for ten years in Norway, and must neither be in any department of the state or court, uor on the pension list, nor in the counting-house or bureau of any officer of state, or of the court.
The country is divided into election districts, corresponding to the amts, or counties, and sub-districts, corresponding to the parishes. Registers of the qualified voters in each sub-district are kept by the minister, and also by the foged, or bailie. Each town with a 150 voters makes a sub-district; but if the number of voters be under 150, it must be joined to the nearest town. In or before the month of December of each third year, the electors or voters assemble in the parish church, and proceed, after the constitution and ground-laws are read, to choose their election men, in such proportions, that in towns, one is chosen from among themselves by every 50 voters. In the country, every 100 voters, or under, if the sub-district contain only a smaller number, elect one; from 100 to 200 voters elect two; from 200 to 300 voters elect three; and so on. In case an election-man, from sickness or other cause, cannot attend the district meeting, he who had the next number of votes is his substitute. In towns within eight days, and in the country within a month, after these election-men are chosen, they assemble at the place appointed for the district or county election; and there elect from among themselves, or from among the other qualified voters in the district, the representatives to Parliament, or Storthing, in such proportion, that for towns one-fourth of the number of election-men are chosen, that is, from three to six elect one, from seven to ten two, from eleven to fourteen three, and from fifteen to eighteen four representatives, which is the greatest number any town can send to Storthing. the country one-tenth is the number any district is entitled to send. From five to fourteen election-men elect one, from fifteen to twentyfour two, from twenty-five to thirty-four three, and above that number four, being the greatest number any district or county can send. These proportions are founded on the principle, that the towns in Norway should, as nearly as possible, return one-third, and the country twothirds, of the whole body, which should not consist of under seventyfive, nor above one hundred members.
"The Storthing meets on the first business day of February, and continues its session until April 30, All the meetings now described take place suo jure, by the terms of the constitution; and not under any writ or proclamation from the king. An extraordinary Storthing, convened by royal authority, can only pass interim acts, until the next regular
Storthing, by which they must be ratified, in order to continue in force. The election and meeting of the regular body cannot be postponed or controlled in any way by the executive power, and do not depend, in any shape, on its co-operation. This is really the Magna Charta of Norway.
These are great and extraordinary powers. It is not a little curious to see, in that quarter of Europe, a representative assembly in which the dominant authority so completely resides; —which meets suo jure, without writ or proclamation, every three years; which, besides the ordinary functions of such an assembly, reviews at every triennial meeting all pay and pension lists, and all civil and clerical appointments; and whose decisions become law after having passed three successive Storthings, without reference to the will of the Executive. The franchise, in the country at least, is as low as it well can be; since even the housemen, or agricultural labourers, who receive as part of their remuneration for their labour, a house and a small portion of land, are usually tenants for life, and consequently have the right of voting.
Each town and district elects as many substitutes as it elects representatives; so that, in case of illness or death of the one, the substitute, or 'suppleant,' is sent for, and takes his seat. The franchise, it is to be observed, is not connected with the place, as in England, but with the number of electors; and expands or contracts as they increase or diminish It is a self-acting principle of parliamentary reform; and is obtained by simply considering the elective franchise a privilege belonging to the constituency, according to their numbers. The number of members may consequently be different, in different Storthings; but the variation cannot be great, or of any practical importance. The representative is paid a certain sum per day during his attendance, and his travelling expenses.* Whether the desire to obtain this allowance had any influence on the elections or not, Mr Laing remarks that its advantages are great in a country where few, except the highest functionaries, clergy, and merchants, could afford to leave their homes and employments, and live at Christiania during the session at their own expense. 'The represen'tation of the country would, therefore, fall entirely into the 'hands of those few who, from the very circumstance of being
Andrew Marvel was the last member of an English Parliament who received a stipend for his attendance.
above the ordinary business of the country, would necessarily be, as in England, the least acquainted with its interests or affairs. The Bonder class, also, although deficient in the higher branches of education, or in extended views on political 'subjects, do not want good sound sense; and a man chosen by several thousand of his fellow-parishioners to be their electionman, and again selected by his fellow election-men, each as willing to take the representative's allowance as he is, must be a man distinguished for his judgment and character, He can 'neither be a fool nor a knave.'
Describing the composition of a Storthing at which he was present, Mr. Laing says
This Storthing consists of twenty-two persons in civil offices, three in military, sixteen in clerical, four lawyers, fourteen mercantile men, thirty-seven landowners. Of the civil functionaries, eleven are connected with executive function, the others with judicial. I have included in this class one rector of a school, and one collector of taxes. Of the clerical, four are parish clerks or precentors (kirke sanger), not clergymen. Of the mercantile, some are landed proprietors as well as merchants, some country dealers. The mercantile towns, as Bergen, Drontheim, and Christiana, are not represented entirely by mercantile men, but by men of high reputation from various professions. Of the landowners, with the exception of one or two who possess more than one farm, the thirty-seven are substantial bonder proprietors only of the farms they live on. It appears from this analysis of the composition of the Storthing, that there is no foundation for the objection to the daily allowance, as the class of bonder have not sent any undue proportion of their own numbers, but have chosen representatives from other professions. A much more important inference may be drawn,-that, while the qualification is as low as it well can be, and the education of the electors is also but low, there is still such an amount of good sense in a community at large, that, where undue influence, bribery, delusion, or party spirit, are not at work (and by the machinery of the middle wheel of electionmen, these are entirely excluded), a great majority of educated and enlightened men will be elected to do their business. In this represen❤ tative body there are nearly sixty members, who, from their professions, must have enjoyed the best education which the country affords, and must be among its most able men; and there are only thirty-seven who may be presumed, from their occupation, not to have habits of business, although they are likely to possess great natural talents and judgment. The representatives of this class, in former Storthings, have, I understand, often proved the most efficient members, after they got acquainted with
the routine of business.'
Two main points of similarity with the Constitution of America may here be noticed. First, that population is taken as the basis of representation; and, secondly, the delegation of the electoral powers of the nation to a body which represents it. It
is to be observed, however, that in America, the latter principle is confined to the election of the Senate and of the President; while in Norway, there being but one representative chamber, it is applied to the whole. The American Senate is elected by the legislative Assembly in each State-two members by each; and, for the purpose of electing the President, a certain number of special electors is deputed at the time by the whole electoral body. M. de Tocqueville remarks upon the results of this double action as salutary. Its success in Norway, in producing purity of election, and in procuring the best men for the service of the State, taken with the drawback of its alleged tendency to deaden the interest in public affairs for want of direct communication between the constituent and representative, gives it a claim to consideration in this country, where the problem of the best mode of affording adequate protection to the voter is yet to be solved.
The following extract will show their modes of procedure, and also their manner of constituting a Second Chamber. We earnestly hope that the future conduct of that branch of our own Legislature will be such, as not to force upon the country the necessity of considering upon what other principle, besides the hereditary, a body of that kind may be formed:
The first proceeding of the Storthing is to elect its president, or speaker, and its secretary. This is done once a-week. A president has much in his power, in the form in which he may propose the question to be voted upon to the House, and in the turn of expression that may be given to proceedings or motions in writing them in the protocol. Great jealousy is therefore exercised by the Storthing in preserving the nomination of president and secretary in their own hands. It was one of the rejected propositions of the Cabinet in 1824, that the King should have the nomination.
The next proceeding is to examine the writs, or full powers of the members from their constituents, to ascertain that all are duly elected. The Storthing then proceeds to elect what is equivalent to our House of Peers, the Lagthing, or division in which the deliberative functions of the legislative body are invested. This consists of one-fourth of the members of the Storthing, being in the present assembly twenty-four, who are voted for by the whole body; and they form a separate House, and sit in a different chamber, with their own president and secretary, also elected by themselves weekly. The functions of the Lagthing are not exactly the same as those of our House of Lords, but are more confined. No bill can have its initiative there. It can only receive bills from the other House, the Odelsthing; deliberate upon what is sent up to it, and approve, or reject, or send back the bill, with proposed amendments. It is also the court before which, aided by the Hoieste ret Court, which is an independent branch of the state, the Lower House, the Odelsthing, may impeach Ministers of State. The composition of this
House of Lords, which does its business quite as well as a House of Bishops, Dukes, and Barons, may be an object of curiosity to our British Radicals. It consists, in the present Storthing, of eight persons in civil offices, five in clerical functions, two lawyers, and nine bonder, or peasants; in all twenty-four. They are not elected to the Lagthing with any reference to profession or rank, but simply from the opinion their fellow-members in the Storthing may have formed of their judgment, knowledge, and fitness for deliberative function.
Of the whole ninety-six members of the present Storthing, forty-five have sat in one or more preceding Storthings; the rest are new members.
The mode of procedure differs in some important respects from that of the British Parliament. The Storthing consists, in fact, of three Houses the Lagthing of twenty-four members, the Odelsthing of seventy-two, and the entire Storthing consisting of the whole ninety-six united in one House. In this latter all motions are made and discussed; and, if entertained, are referred to committees to report upon to the Storthing. The report, when received back from its committee, is debated and voted upon; and if approved, a bill in terms of the report is ordered to be brought into the Odelsthing. This House entertains or rejects the proposed bill, frames and discusses the enactments, if it is not rejected in toto, and sends it up to the Lagthing, or Upper House, to be deliberated upon, approved, rejected, or amended. The Storthing appoints standing committees at the beginning of the session, for each branch of the public business. These have to revise and report upon the proceedings of each department during the preceding three years; and every motion or petition to Storthing is, if not rejected at once, referred to the proper committee in the first instance, to report upon to the House.'
The calm tenor of their proceedings, undisturbed by party violence, forms a strong contrast with that struggle between the aristocratic and popular party, which takes place amongst us on evéry subject involving general principles of government or policy. With them the influence of the aristocracy, which never had been great, was quietly extinguished by their constitution, at its formation in 1814; and their attention is keenly alive to prevent even the smallest innovation on the principles then established. The attempts, however, to control their independence, have been neither few nor inconsiderable; but they have all been strenuously resisted by the Storthing, though with equal temper and firmness. Should the demonstration of military force, resorted to in 1821, with a view to overawe their proceedings, be repeated, it will become necessary to consider how far the arrangements, out of which the Norwegian constitution had its origin, impose on Great Britain the obligation of guaranteeing its preservation.
On the 8th of April, 1812, a treaty was entered into between Russia and Sweden, by which Norway, to which neither of the contracting parties had a shadow of claim, and which was at