Ivar Lykke

Ivar Lykke (1872-1949) was more or less born to be a businessman. His grandfather had founded the company I.K. Lykke in 1836, and over time it had become one of the leading grocery and trading firms in Trondheim. After taking a mercantile education and studies abroad, Ivar Lykke joined the company in 1892, taking over ownership in 1910.
Lykke was actively involved in local politics for Høyre [the Conservative Party]. He was a member of Trondheim City Council from 1905, and was the deputy mayor from 1913 to 1915. He later also entered national politics, being elected to the Storting [MoP in the Norwegian Parliament] from 1916, and also served as the President of Storting for periods in the 1920s. In 1926 he became the Prime Minister in a Conservative government, where he also functioned as Minister of Foreign Affairs at the same time!
The alternative to Lykke's government in 1926 was an "impartial" coalition led by Fridtjof Nansen. This solution had significantly popular support and sympathy, and Lykke's efforts were therefore critically assessed in comparison to the alternative. His Government implemented a policy of budget cuts to maintain strict financial control, and was forced to step down in 1928, after the Conservatives had poor results in the election of the preceding year.
In 1940 Ivar Lykke took part in the Presidium's negotiations with the German occupiers. The report from Undersøkelseskommisjonen [the committee appointed to investigate the roles of the three branches of power in Norway in 1940] after the war criticised parts of this work. It was found that these negotiations had gone too far in making concessions to the Germans. Those implicated did not find this criticism fair, but it cast a shadow on Ivar Lykke’s last years. But the well-known episode in 1945, when on his own initiative King Haakon stepped out of Stiftsgården, his residence in Trondheim, to make a private visit to the former Prime Minister, may have been sufficient amends.
Ivar Lykke died in 1949. More than fifty years later the merchant name of Lykke continues to be well known in Trondheim.
Recommended reading: Svein Carstens: Fra kjøpmannsdisk til kongens bord [From the merchant counter to the King's table]. I.K. Lykke, 1992.

Author: Einar Rædergård