Congratulations to Norway!

Today is a significant anniversary: the Stemmerettsjubileet, or women’s suffrage centenary.

On 11 June 2013 it will be 100 years since Norwegian women gained the right to vote and Norway became a true democracy. Norway was the first independent country in the world to introduce universal suffrage, with women and men enjoying equal democratic rights.

It’s amazing that it’s only been a century — I can’t imagine the injustice of depriving women of the right to vote.

I know some representatives of other countries who comment here will be quick to complain that Norway wasn’t the very first—but they’ve got that covered.

Globally, Norway was a universal suffrage pioneer. It is true that three countries had already introduced universal suffrage – New Zealand in 1893, Australia in 1902 and Finland in 1906 – but they were not independent states at the time. Norway was the first sovereign state to extend the vote to all adults. The right to vote gave women a formal foundation on which to participate in democratic bodies on an equal footing with men.

You’re all pioneers, OK? Clearly there was a wave of suffrage that swept around the world at roughly the turn of the last century.

But this goes too far.

A cause championed since the French Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment had finally been won.

“Won”? Keep in mind that Ann Coulter is promoting the revocation of women’s suffrage, it’s easy to find other cranks creating petitions to repeal the 19th amendment, and it’s a common talking point on the far right. I wish the Enlightenment were won.

Maybe it’s just the United States that’s trying to roll it back.


  1. marko says

    On the Ann Coulter thing, “Coulter stood by her comments, arguing that every election since 1950, aside from the 1964 Barry Goldwater election, would have been won by Republicans had it not been for the woman vote.”

    I’m not American, so I probably shouldn’t comment on this, but I’m going to anyway. Surely her logic is backwards, is that not an argument to take the vote away from men?

  2. Eurasian magpie says

    Finland 1906. The same year we elected the first female MPs in the whole world.

  3. Nick Gotts says


    No, it wasn’t an independent country. It was a self-governing colony; defence and foreign affairs remained the responsibility of the imperial government in London.

    There are claims that the Corsican Republic had women’s suffrage during its brief existence, 1755-1769, but the constitution does not specify how the Diet is to be elected.

    Anyway: congratulations to Norway!

  4. vaiyt says

    “Coulter stood by her comments, arguing that every election since 1950, aside from the 1964 Barry Goldwater election, would have been won by Republicans had it not been for the woman vote.”

    Well, someone at least is honest about wanting to outlaw voting for the other party.

  5. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    The “petition” to repeal the 19th is utterly fucking hilarious. Seriously, read it; the “logic” is laughable. And the responses in the comments are encouraging too :)

  6. says

    What David Gerard@1 said – Australia was independent in 1902, when women got the vote in all states (they already had it in some states). However, this was only for federal elections; some states didn’t extend the franchise for state elections.

    Thanks to Queensland and Western Australia, women didn’t get the right to vote or stand for election until 1920 and 1919, respectively. And at the local government level, the city of Launceston in Tasmania didn’t permit women to stand for council until 1945.

    (Then, of course, there was the way we didn’t even acknowledge the indigenous population as citizens until 1967 – but that, at least, wasn’t split on gender grounds)

    Norway did it across all government levels, including the right to stand for election. (NZ in 1893 didn’t permit women to run for office, for example). They were the first independent country to do so.

  7. Koshka says

    Australia has barely had universal suffrage for 50 years. We are way down the list.
    Congratulations Norway.

  8. Usernames are smart says

    Maybe it’s just the United States Trolls and Griefers that’s trying to roll it back. — PZ

    FIFY :)

  9. Erp says

    Switzerland didn’t extend the vote to women until 1971 at the national level and the last canton in 1990.

    Saudi Arabia does not allow women to vote (but the power of the voters is extremely limited anyway).

  10. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Deep in the fetid bowels of Republican National Headquarters, a think tank stews…

    “Gentlemen. We need to guarantee Republican victories in every election. How do we do that?”
    “Get rid of the women! They tend to vote for Democrats!”
    “Good, good.”
    “Also the blacks and Hispanics.”
    “I see, I see. So who can vote.”
    “White men! Y’know, but not those manginas… we’ll weed them out eventually.”

    The scene fades as laughter emanates and cigar smoke rises…

  11. TW Nessel says

    I still find it hard to fathom that my own grandmother died without ever once being able to vote.

  12. Fraser Wilson says

    @Australian “universal voting in 1901” brigades: indigenous voters still don’t count?

  13. Draken says

    Coulter is essentially arguing that all non-Republican voters should be disenfranchised. Which is effectively the same as abolishing elections completely once the Republicans are in power.

  14. imthegenieicandoanything says

    This “Ann Coulter” exists for a single purpose: to promote “herself” and draw the attention of those truly so stupid they cannot sense even red meat unless it’s slapped repeatedly in their faces.

    However, “she” is more a real human being than the fictional “Max Headroom” (or the alleged “rock band” Nickelback).

    Pull the other one.

  15. playonwords says

    Norway, always slow off the mark.

    New Zealand though – 120 years of womens sufferage this year!

    Still 120 years is not very long but then male universal sufferage has not been in place much longer.

  16. Thumper; Atheist mate says


    Hey, lay off Nickelback; I like them. Why is it so fashionable to hate Nickelback? Their earlier stuff is very good, even if their later stuff is a bit… pop-y and gushing.

  17. belzerbru says

    For fellow Norwegians who need to get back to reality.. Check out the Askeladden Prosjekt on Facebook ..