The roots of populism’s success in Norway

How can it be that Norway, a prosperous, successful country, has so easily allowed populism to penetrate its establishment?

In this thought-provoking essay, Financial Times journalist Martin Sandbu challenges the traditional picture of Norway as a consensual social democracy and explores the various elements of Norwegian culture that have over time fostered a deep-rooted conspiratorial populism. Sandbu aims to explain the source of a phenomenon that manifested itself most violently in terrorist Anders Breivik’s attacks in Oslo and Utøya in the summer of 2011. Along the way he reflects on the Norwegian ‘A4’ life, the Jante Law, the Eurabia conspiracy theory and the rise of the populist Progress Party.

He concludes by asking whether it is Norway’s mindset of ‘mediocrity’ that has laid the foundations for populist mobilisation.This is not just a must-read for anyone with an interest in Norway’s particular cultural make-up; Sandbu’s analysis also contains vital insights into the roots and prospects of populism across the whole of Europe.

This pamphlet is being launched in London on the evening of May 15 at the public event ‘Shaping the vote: politics and populism in the media’. Find out more here.


The roots of populism's success in Norway (application/pdf)


Strategic advice to manage new forms of cultural and social risks

Decoding cultures and making sense of context

Learn more

Interpreting public behaviour and emotions

Learn more

Crafting the right conversations

Learn more

News & events


The Italian Job:  learning to cope with populists?

We are at turning point in the way in which the mainstream deals with populists.   For those of us who have been studying...

people backs

Bonne Année – Local realities of migration: emotions, institutions, conflict and cooperation

Counterpoint explored local and personal experiences of migration in communities across four European countries (France, Germany, Sweden and Italy), and here we set out...


Tentacles of Circumstance: The Political Consequences of Inequality

To explore the complex effects of inequality on European societies, this collection brings together essays by scholars of economic history, sociology, psychology and philosophy....