Corruption in Norway Explained: Is Norway Corrupt?

Corruption is a huge problem around the world, but what’s the deal with corruption in Norway? Let’s take a look at what the corruption in Norway is like!

Norway is generally ranked among the 5 countries with the lowest level of corruption in the entire world, so Norway is not really corrupt at all. There is some corruption, but generally at a municipality, region or governmental level where politicians offer “favors” to friends and family.

You will never be able to experience Norwegian corruption as a tourist in Norway, and most corruption cases are entirely unspoken and done without any cash changing hands.

Driving in front of Oslo Opera House.

Are bribes and extortion a thing in Norway?

Neither bribes or extortion is a thing in Norway, and you will get in a lot of trouble if you attempt to do either of these things.

A police officer will never accept a bribe in Norway, so you just got to pay your super expensive speeding ticket if you get one. Offering to pay the police officer to let you off the hook will either get you a laugh, or even legal trouble.

Neither the police or any other official figure will try to extort you or ask for bribes. It’s just not a thing in Norway. No fines from the police are ever paid in cash.

Norwegian bank notes
Norwegian bank notes. Photo by Nils S. Aasheim/Norges Bank / CC BY-ND 2.0.

What the Norwegian corruption is like

No country is free of corruption, and Norway is no exception. There are some forms of corruption in Norway, so let’s take a closer look at what this corruption is actually like.

The most common type of corruption in Norway is favors to friends or family from municipality officials or politicians. A typical Norwegian corruption case involves a person that is either hired by a the municipality or region, or elected as a politician for the municipality, region or government.

Some actual examples of corruption cases in Norway are things such as:

  • Municipality politicians accepting building proposals from friends or family as a favor.
  • Public officials signing a contract with a company owned by a person they know, instead of giving the contract to the company who can offer the best price.
  • Hiring someone as a favor, instead of hiring the best candidate.

As you can see, the corruption in Norway is on a higher structural level than in many countries. You cannot ever get hired to a public position based on offering a cash payment bribe, but you might be able to achieve the same thing by carefully forging a friendship over multiple years.

Most corruption cases are difficult to notice, and obvious corruption cases are close to non-existent.

The most popular form of corruption is granting building permits that would otherwise be denied, especially close to the coast. This is big business in Norway, and some of the most well-known cases of corruption in Norway has had to do with this.

Police corruption in Norway

The police in Norway is generally not corrupt, and you can generally speaking have a high level of trust in the Norwegian police.

As mentioned above, you won’t ever be successful if you try to offer a police officer money as part of a bribe. They will usually just tell you to stop trying to bribe them, but corruption is a serious offence, so they can actually file a police report and potentially get you in a lot of trouble.

My advise is to never attempt to bribe the police in Norway. They will definitely not accept it.

A Norwegian police car
A Norwegian police car. Photo by Wolfmann / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Why Norway has a low level of corruption

It’s not possible to give a definite answer as to exactly why Norway has such as low level of corruption, but there are a few factors that are likely to have a big impact:

  • Norwegians have a high level of trust in the government.
  • Most public work is completely transparent, allowing journalists and private individuals to research if any public official has done anything wrong. This includes all public budgets.
  • Strict laws and long prison sentences for corruption cases. Certain corruption cases have lead to longer sentences than murder cases.

It’s also worth noting that our neighbors in Scandinavia also has a low level of corruption, so this is a typical Scandinavian thing, not just a Norwegian thing. In fact, Denmark has the lowest level of corruption in the entire world.

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