The Health Party
By Erik Hexeberg, Head of The Health Party
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Tønsberg, 8 September, 2021
Some critical concerns related to the upcoming parliamentary elections in
On behalf of the Health Party, which is a Norwegian political party not yet represented in the
Norwegian Parliament, Stortinget, we claim that the preparations for the election are not
according to the intentions embedded in the OSCE / ODIHR Guidelines on Political Party
Especially, we would like to draw attention to the Principle 7, Political Pluralism, of OSCE /
ODIHR Guidelines on Political Party Regulation in addition to the chapter on Media Access
for Political Parties.
Also, it can be questioned whether The Norwegian Constitution § 100 has been violated.
OSCE Guidelines Principle 7.
Legislation regarding political parties should aim to facilitate a pluralistic political
environment. The ability of citizens to receive a variety of political viewpoints, such as
through the expression of political party platforms, is commonly recognized as critical
element of a robust democratic society. As evidenced by paragraph 3 of the Copenhagen
Document and other OSCE commitments, pluralism is necessary to ensure individuals are
offered a real choice in their political associations and voting choices. Regulations on the
functions of political parties should be carefully considered to ensure they do not impinge
upon the principle of political pluralism.
(Guidelines p. 25)
Conditions for political pluralism is described in detail at page 57-58 in the guidelines:
Political pluralism is critical to ensuring effective democratic governance and providing
citizens with a real say in choosing how they will be governed. Legislation regarding political
parties should promote pluralism as a means of guaranteeing the ability for the expression of
opposition viewpoints and for democratic transitions of power.
Generally, measures to limit the number of political parties able to contest in an election are
not considered incompatible and can be seen as reasonable in aiding Parties in Elections the
administration of elections and preventing fragmentation. However, legislation should avoid
restricting the number of parties through overly burdensome requirements for registration or
expressions of minimum support. Not only do such restrictions inherently minimize the free
function of political pluralism in society, they can easily be manipulated to silence parties or
candidates who express opinions unpopular to those in power.
As another measure to ensure pluralism, the legal framework must provide for equal
treatment for all political parties and candidates, including women and minority groups. This
includes protection of their right to present candidates, as well as their eligibility to receive
political financing and public support.
As our concern is related to media coverage, we include the chapter on Media Access for
Political Parties (page 63-64):
Media Access for Political Parties
The allocation of free media airtime is integral to ensuring that all political parties, including small
parties, are able to present their programmes to the electorate at large. While the allocation of free
airtime on state-owned media is not mandated through international law, it is strongly recommended
that such a provision be included in relevant legislation as a critical means of ensuring an informed
electorate. When made available, free airtime must be allocated to all parties on a reasonable basis
and consistent with the principle of equal treatment before the law.
Mass media access is one of the main resources sought by parties in the campaign period. In order to
ensure equal opportunity, legislation regarding access of parties and candidates to public media
should be non-discriminatory and provide for equal treatment.
The principle of equal treatment before the law with regard to the media refers not only to the
airtime given to parties and candidates, but also to the timing and location of such space. Legislation
should set out requirements for equal treatment, ensuring there are no discrepancies in the allotment
of access, such as prime viewing times going to particular parties and late-night or off-peak slots
going to others.
While the fulfilment of party-registration requirements may be taken into account as a pre-requisite
for being granted free media access, such a system of allocation cannot be used in a discriminatory
way against non-registered (where they are allowed free media access) or independent candidates. It
is recognized, however that specific rules regarding the methods of allocation may intrinsically benefit
parties that have undergone the process of registration.
Private media cannot always be regulated as strictly as publicly owned media. However, private
media outlets may play a fundamental role in the public process of elections. Some OSCE participating
States impose a regulation that airtime offered on private media must be offered to all parties at the
A key role of the media in any election is to ensure that the public has sufficient information on all
candidates to make an informed choice. As such, it is a good practice to ensure that women and
minority candidates, who often receive less funding or support than their male counterparts, are
ensured a fair and unbiased share of media coverage.
Norwegian Constitution (Grunnloven) § 100 – Freedom of speech
“The governmental authorities shall facilitate an open and informed public discourse.”
(Dei statlege styresmaktene skal leggje til rette for eit ope og opplyst offentleg ordskifte.)
The Health Party (Helsepartiet)
The Health Party (HP) was founded late 2016 and was eligible for the parliamentary elections
in 2017 and HP obtained 0,4 % of the votes in the 2017 election.
For the upcoming parliamentary elections HP is listed in all 19 election districts.
Eligible parties for the election
There are 25 parties listed for the upcoming election of which 16 parties are listed in all
election districts. Nine parties have been represented in the parliament the last four years,
with two of the parties represented by only one representative each.
NRK and information to voters
The governmentally owned broadcasting, NRK, has a huge impact on voters’ preference and
the choices made by NRK also influence other media.
The influence on voters is especially evident with the use of their digital election guide,
“valgomat”, which has been accessed more than 1,7 million times several weeks before the
election and it is the most used digital election guide in Norway. The valgomat has been
restricted to include only the nine parties represented in the parliament and in principle
excludes answers from other parties.
This elimination of other parties is not in accordance with the principle of political pluralism
and is a violation of the responsibility of the publicly owned media as presented in the OSCE
Guidelines to inform voters. Informed voters are a prerequisite for a true democracy.
In parallel NRK gives information about the parties up for election at “Partiguiden” (The
Party Guide) which only lists answers from the nine parties represented in the parliament. A
disclaimer informs that there exist ten other parties listed in most election districts.
However, when seeking information on different subjects, no information is given on other
parties then the nine preferred parties. The information to voters from NRK is as other
parties then the nine preferred do not exist.
https://www.nrk.no/valg/2021/partiguiden/nb/NRK and invitation to debates
On the 11th of August the most popular radio program on political debates, Dagsnytt 18, had
a discussion on the Norwegian nutrition guidelines. The reason for the discussion was a
newspaper article in The Bergens Tidende, and the statements up for discussion was a
statement by physician and leader of HP, dr. Erik Hexeberg. However, although NRK as a
teaser announced that the physician responsible for the statement would appear later in the
program, he was not invited. Instead, the Norwegian Health Directorate was invited together
with Professor Birger Svihus, who in the newspaper article had supported dr. Hexeberg’s
HP is the only party that has politics on nutrition that challenge the present guideline from
The Norwegian Health Directorate, and this uniqueness should in our opinion be respected
by inviting the leader of HP to the program. NRK seems to have decided on a strategy of noplatforming for the parties not represented in the parliament.
As a follow-up to NRK’s lack of invitation, a debate article was submitted to NRK at
Ytring@nrk.no, stating the unacceptance of NRK’s conduct. However, the article was refused
stating that NRK did not see their action as misconduct and within acceptable journalistic
We attach the submitted article for information.
Violation of the Norwegian Constitution
As NRK is owned by the government it is our opinion that the last paragraph of the
Norwegian Constitution § 100 apply to NRK, “The governmental authorities shall facilitate an
open and informed public discourse”. As small parties have systematically been
discriminated by the governmentally owned broadcasting, we regard this as a violation of
the Norwegian Constitution.
In conclusion, we claim that the OSCE guidelines are not followed in the period before the
upcoming parliamentary elections in Norway. The intention embedded in the guidelines to
stimulate political pluralism and to secure an illuminated electorate is in our opinion
violated. We find the discrimination by NRK, the governmentally owned broadcasting, of
information on political parties other than those represented in parliament to be
unacceptable in a democratic society.
We also regard the conduct by NRK to be a violation of the Norwegian Constitution § 100.
We encourage the OSCE election observers to investigate our complaints and include our
concerns in their report on the Norwegian parliament election.
Erik Hexeberg (sign)
Head of Health Party