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Norway has 428 kommuner (councils) The average size of a kommune is just 12,000 people. In Scotland the average council serves a whopping 178,000 people. How do these tiny Norwegian kommuner function and avoid bureaucracy and uneven standards? Whatever the answer it seems they are doing something right. Turnout at elections is 64% - almost twice that of Scotland. And 1 in 81 Norwegians stands in council elections compared to 1 in 2071 Scots.
The new Norwegian Government has proposed mergers which would bring the average kommune size closer to 15 or 20 thousand people. Even this modest increase in size is causing local opposition. So is small still beautiful in Norway?
Professor John Bryden is a Scot who currently lives near Oslo. He is Research Professor at the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute and Professor of Human Geography Emeritus at Aberdeen University. He is the lead editor of a new book comparing the modern history of Scotland and Norway, Northern Neighbours, by Edinburgh University Press.
The event will be followed by drinks and food in Hemma, Swedish bar, on Holyrood Road: