Towns and Cities and the Schei-committee: Haugesund as part of a national political game

The article investigates a hitherto largely unexplored theme concerning how the cities of Norway were fundamentally altered by the reform of the country’s municipality system during the first few decades after the Second World War. The reform – in short known as the «Schei-committee» – is first and foremost remembered for the more or less coerced merger of many small, rural municipalities, bringing the total number of municipalities down from 747 to 454.

However, I argue that the reform’s most important and lasting effect was its dismantling of the privileged position held by towns and cities compared to rural municipalities. By the mid-1960s, the towns and cities had joined the counties («fylkeskommune») and most were merged with geographically large municipalities, and had as such lost their former economic and political advantages. The article looks into a key event in the political battle over the towns and cities’ future, which is when the city of Haugesund was merged with its neighboring municipality Skåre in 1958.