Europe’s northernmost country has fallen one spot to sit at the 13th position in the 2018 Soft Power 30 rankings. Despite this fall, Norway’s investment in its cultural institutions has paid off with a leap of seven spots in the Culture index, partly aided by its stellar performance at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Losing its hold on first place in the Government index, Norway’s commitment to the liberal international order persists as the September 2017 elections kept Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s Conservative-Progressive coalition in government against the backdrop of rising populist sentiments in the rest of Europe. Despite falling two spots, Prime Minister Solberg’s commitment to gender equality is demonstrated by the appointment of women to half the posts in her cabinet. Norway also experienced poorer results in the Education and Digital sub-indices this year, falling several spots in both categories. It could be argued by some that the Nordic values of social welfare and equal wealth distribution are incompatible with the dynamism required to climb further up the Digital ranks.
Norway tops the Human Development Index, owing to its high life expectancy, high quality of education and high per capita income. Its low recidivism rates are testament to the country’s resolve to promote restorative justice instead of meting out punishments. It is no wonder Norway consistently is ranked one of the happiest countries in the world.
Despite boasting the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio, and high government spending on education, Norway’s has dropped four spots in the Education index. This is largely due to the limited efforts the government has undertaken to attract international students to its universities. Attracting international students and facilitating cultural exchanges is an important way in promoting Norway’s image beyond its borders, and should be a key focus for Norway.
Norway continues to score consistently high across the board, but while the country’s society and governance structure are exemplary, this does not always translate into international prominence. Norway has the opportunity to take a confident step onto the global stage by forging a progressive foreign policy. Norway has demonstrated a commitment to soft power – it’s time to leverage these assets further.