A new Hardanger ? Municipal changes in 1964–65 in a regional perspective

The Hardanger region today consists of seven municipalities, with around 25,000 inhabitants. This map is the result of the national municipal reform mainly brought forward in the first part of the 1960s. The article focuses on formal regions and regional identities, and shows how the county has been the regional level when writing about the reform process. In 1960, there were ten municipalities in Hardanger – twice as many as were established in 1837. The plans for the Hardanger municipalities expressed the modernization, rationalization and centralization of policy in post-war Norway. In this region, the plans especially stressed the need for new boundaries connected to communication on land. The discussion addresses whether the common regional identity made it easier to create new municipalities. It is further considered how the outcome changed for several of municipalities. These changes were mainly caused by other centrally planned modernization activities, e.g. new power plants and the power melting industry. Thus, a change in politics came about from the late 1960s, with more emphasis on communities and local democracy. The re-establishment of the municipality Eidfjord in 1977 is analyzed in light of this. Finally, it is discussed whether the reform influenced Hardanger as a regional identity, which to a certain extent was the case, through the changes in the southeastern part (Røldal) and western part near the Sunnhordland region.