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Lars Sponheim (born 23 May 1957) is a Norwegianmarker politician. He has been the leader of the Liberal Party since 1996; he is also a member of the Stortingmarker, first elected in 1993. He was a government minister from 1997 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2005.

Sponheim was born in Haldenmarker, Østfoldmarker. In 1981 he achieved a degree in agricultural science at the Agricultural University of Norwaymarker. From 1988 to 1991, he was mayor of his home municipality, Ulvikmarker in Hordalandmarker. He is also a farmer, and with his family he runs the ancestral farm, Sponheim, in Ulvik. He was elected to parliament as the Liberal Party's only representative in the 1993 election. During his campaign he pledged that he would walk from his home in Ulvik to Oslomarker if elected, which he did. During his first term in parliament he tried to carve a place in Norwegian politics for the Liberal Party, who had been out of parliament since the 1985 election, and to make the party a potential partner in a new non-socialist government. In this he succeeded in the 1997 elections when the Liberal Party gained 5 new seats in parliament and became junior partner in the centrist first cabinet of Kjell Magne Bondevik. Sponheim became party leader in 1996, succeeding Odd Einar Dørum. Since 2006, he is the longest serving of the present party leaders in Norway.

In the first cabinet of Bondevik, from October 1997 to March 2000, Sponheim was Minister of Trade and Industry. His main project in this position was to reduce the number of laws and regulations restricting business, especially small business. In the second Bondevik cabinet, from October 2001 to October 2005, he was Minister of Agriculture and Food. He used this position to promote Norwegian food in general and local agricultural specialties in particular, and to implement reforms aimed at making Norwegian agriculture more competitive. He also gained a lot of publicity for criticizing Norwegians traveling to Swedenmarker in order to buy cheaper food, calling it "Harry".

Sponheim was elected to a fourth consecutive term in the Storting in the 2005 election.

In the 2009 election, the Liberal Party suffered a major defeat and lost eight out of their ten seats in parliament, including Sponheim's seat in Hordaland. Following this defeat, Sponheim announced on the election night that he would resign as party leader when the Liberal Party convenes in the spring 2010.


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