Party leader names are not catchy

Erna Solberg Høyre IdErna Solberg. Photo: Høyre

The party leader names are not catchy

If you want to give your child a unique name, go for a party leader. Little Erna, Siv, Rasmus, Knut Arild, Trygve or even Jonas will probably be alone in their group.


Nor have Trine, Bjørnar or Audun been ranked high in recent years, if you look at figures from Statistics Norway (SSB).

– What we can see is that none of today’s Norwegian party leaders seem to have contributed to increasing the popularity of their name over time, says researcher Ivar Utne at the University of Bergen to NTB.

Name trends go up and down in long waves at intervals of around 100 years or more. Several of the first names were already far down or on their way out of use when today’s party leaders entered into the limelight, and some first names seem to have had an extra dip as they can be linked to a top politician.

Erna under the barrier limit

The first name of Prime Minister Solberg (H) had its heyday about 100 years ago and has been on the decline for almost a generation. Four or more babies must be given a name for it to end up in the name statistics for a year. Erna has just come above the barrier limit twice in the past 20 years. This despite that Erna is a two-syllable girl name ending on a, which has been very trendy for more than ten years.

Neither fares Siv very well. The name was top in 1967, before it started a downturn. The four years before Siv Jensen became parliamentary leader in the Frp in 2005, the name had a slight upturn, but after that, Siv has also struggled to stay in the statistics with four new Siv’s in a year.

– There was a little resurgence when she became known around 2000, maybe she was a breath of fresh air, but the name has fallen again in parallel with Siv Jensen becoming more controversial, says Utne.

U-turn for Jonas and Rasmus

Jonas Gahr Støre (AP) and Rasmus Hansson (MDG) stand out because their names were on their way up when they started to be profiled in the media. The Jonas name had been doing well for several years, and could have continued to do so. When Støre became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2005, he got the nickname Super-Jonas. In 2006, 562 babies where named Jonas, the highest number ever. However, it unexpectedly got much less popular, and in ten years, the number of newborn Jonas’ has fallen by 42 percent, to 324 in 2016.

– It has fallen suspiciously abruptly, says Utne.

The name Rasmus lay down from the early 1970s and rose slowly, but surely until the 2000s when the use took off. In 2009 there was a record: 57 new Rasmus’ in one year.

– This is a typical traditional name and could be expected to go further up. But, like Jonas, it turned and quickly went down, Utne says.

Over seven years, the number of newborns named Rasmus is reduced to one third, 19 in 2016, back to level of the early 1980s.

Stabilt for Trygve

Sp-leader Slagsvold Vedum does not seem to have an immediate effect on people’s choice of the name Trygve.

– We could have had a Jonas / Rasmus development, but at least there was no negative effect on Trygve that the politician became known. It is interesting because he, like the other two, is clearly profiled in the media, says Utne.

The number of newborns who are called Trygve has been between 50 and 30 per year for almost 50 years.


Ruth Vatvedt Fjeld is a professor of Scandinavian linguistics at the University of Oslo, and believes that politicians with first names can have something to say for people’s relationship to the name and associations, consciously or subconsciously.

– The name does not shame anyone, but maybe someone is damaging the name? The Nordic model with an ideal of equality has nevertheless had much to say because we are now referring to politicians by their first names, she says.

A look at Prime Ministers since the 1980s shows that their names have also declined in use, but all are following development as expected, perhaps with the exception of Jens, who had resurgence in 2016. The names Gro and Kåre have also been on their way down since the 1970s and 1930s, respectively, and are still very low.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today