• Sweden edition
 
THE WÄSTBERG CHRONICLES
Almedalen — Swedish openness galore
Youth leaders Jytte Guteland (SocDem) and Ida Gabrielsson (ChrDem) at Almedalen

Almedalen — Swedish openness galore

Published: 07 Jul 2009 13:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Jul 2009 13:53 GMT+02:00

The Almedalen Week is the biggest political meeting of the year. Or, if you like, the trade fair of the chattering classes.

About 7,000 politicians, decision-makers, journalists, trade unionists, lobbyists and a couple of ambassadors spend a week in Visby. (A team from The Local was of course present among the 400 or so journalists at Almedalen.)

You can have breakfast at Wisby Hotell with the prime minister at the table just beside you and a TV anchorman at another. You will bump into the leader of the opposition or the president of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise on the street.

Every night, one of the party leaders gives a 30-minute speech from the stage in the town park, Almedalen. The other party leaders are often there to listen. You can also meet with former prime ministers (I saw two of them) in the crowd.

During Almedalen Week 2009 more than 1,000 free political events – speeches, seminars, hearings – took place. Thousands of bottles of rosé were emptied at the many parties mostly thrown by public relations companies.

This is a political circus. The aim: to build networks, to educate people, to set the political agenda, to go deeper into issues, to give opportunities for meetings. You meet in an informal way, in short sleeves, at parties, in late-night restaurants and at breakfast tables.

Any topic that in one way or another could be the subject of political discussions could be raised. There were seminars on city planning, alcohol, culture, youth questions, quality of food. I even saw a leaflet and a badge marking a protest against converting the playground of a Stockholm high school into parking lots. Why was that parents’ association in Visby? Simply because the local political decision-makers were there too – and the parents were much more likely to get access to the politicians by chance in Visby than to get a scheduled appointment in Stockholm.

Of course, politics is often something of a closed circuit. After the murders of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 and Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in 2003, politicians have been more protected. And this includes Almedalen; security measures are taken and there are policies. But less so than in Stockholm. Almedalen tends to be a happy period of openness and accessibility.

This may have a deeper meaning for the perception of Sweden. In the annual Anholt Nation Brands Index, Sweden ranks highest in the category of ”governance,” because of how society works, the low level of paralyzing conflicts, the low level of corruption. In the study – where 20,000 people in 20 countries grade 50 countries – Sweden is also characterized as an open society.

This has been a part of the Swedish tradition for the last 80 years. The level of conflicts on the labour market is low. Even if there are conflicts, labour and capital usually understand each other and try to work together.

The multi-party system in Sweden – right now, seven parties are represented in the parliament – makes compromise and cooperation a necessity. Obviously, in a way that might seem strange in many countries, the opposition will hold back during the Swedish Presidency of the European Union in order to give the government peace and quiet to work.

Sometimes this attitude will make public life a dull place, but for a very small country dependent on foreign trade and foreign relations, it is an advantage. Swedes just make up 1.1 percent of the world population. To make an impact on the other 98.9 we’d better organize ourselves and show unity.

Olle Wästberg, Director-General of the Swedish Institute

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:51 July 7, 2009 by unkle strunkle
"Any topic that in one way or another could be the subject of political discussions could be raised. There were seminars on city planning, alcohol, culture, youth questions, quality of food. I even saw a leaflet and a badge marking a protest against converting the playground of a Stockholm high school into parking lots."

I hope the Sweden Democrats were allowed to participate and discuss the violent Islamic ghettos and slow creep of Sharia law into this fine land. They are the only party that dares to talk openly about these important issues.
22:04 July 7, 2009 by lungfish
A topic: a Swedish woman and her British partner returned to

Sweden/Gotland when she became pregnant, so that her parents could

help with the baby.

Jobs are few in Gotland and they ended up unemployed. As it

happens, Gotland is the only place in Sweden where it is legal to rent

apartments etc. without a long term contract, so landlords can

make a 4x rental killing during the summer by renting out to

tourists. The couple, unemployed and with a new baby, were therefore

thrown out of their apartment.

They went to the social authorities who offered to grant them 2500

sek to buy a tent. This was after they were told that their baby was brain

damaged due to innoculation side effects.

They returned to the UK.

Congratulations Sweden and your superior social system. I doubt if

this was ever discussed in Almedalen during the politicians week.
16:33 July 13, 2009 by conboy
I don't buy the unique aspect of "Gotland's" political week. Why are parliamentary politicians not out amongst the people more often apart from Gotland and of course election time? Swedish troops are deployed with ISAF/NATO forces in Afghanistan in "soft skinned" vehicles without a proper public debate and the police authorities are permitted to conduct imbecilic investigations into the death of one Prime Minister and one Foreign Minister without any political sanction of any kind. What Gotland says to me is that the political classes and their media matrix mates prefer each others company more even on the summer holidays rather than going out to places where ordinary Swedes are and debating real issues with real people as they affect them. Whether this is at Vimmerby,Skara Sommarland, Rinkeby Centrum, Rosengård, Kålmården, Skansen or wherever.
10:44 August 3, 2010 by cosplay
The swine flu outbreak was a 'false pandemic' driven by drug companies that stood to make billions of pounds from a worldwide scare. This led to the pharmaceutical firms ensuring 'enormous gains', while countries, including the UK, 'squandered' their meagre health budgets, with millions being vaccinated against a relatively mild disease."
Today's headlines
Swedes insist EU prioritize environment

Swedes insist EU prioritize environment

An EU public opinion poll released on Friday revealed that Sweden is the only nation which thinks the environment should be a top priority for the union. READ  

Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
File photo: TT

Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'

Police in Gothenburg have confirmed that sex trafficking in the city has developed into a full-blown slave trade - but that they lack the resources to do anything about it. READ  

Pirate Bay inmate claims religious persecution
Photo: TT/The Missionary Church of Kopimism

Pirate Bay inmate claims religious persecution

Peter Sunde has complained that his religious rights have been impinged after he was refused permission to meet a representative of a church inspired by the keyboard shortcuts for cut and paste. READ  

Stockholm 'bomb man' jailed and deported
Police at the scene of the threat in June. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Stockholm 'bomb man' jailed and deported

The 43-year-old man who threatened Stockholm's Gamla Stan with a bomb in June was sentenced on Friday to two years in jail, followed by deportation. READ  

Swedish police: 'We're sweaty all the time'
Swedish cops are unhappy with the heat. Photo: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr

Swedish police: 'We're sweaty all the time'

Swedish weather agencies say the summer's warmest day is yet to come, but police in the north have decided that they can't take the heat - and filed a report about the own stifling police station. READ  

SAS resumes flights from Stockholm to Tel Aviv
File photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

SAS resumes flights from Stockholm to Tel Aviv

SAS Scandinavian Airlines has resumed flights from Stockholm to Tel Aviv after the airline completed a 'thorough security analysis' of the situation in Israel. READ  

Swedish man stabs woman and kills himself
A Stockholm police car. File photo: TT

Swedish man stabs woman and kills himself

A man and a woman, reported to be both 45-years-old, were found dead on Thursday in an apartment on Lidingö in Stockholm with police suspecting a murder and suicide. READ  

Police fear arson after Sweden mosque fire
Central Norrköping in eastern Sweden. Photo: Stefan Vilcans

Police fear arson after Sweden mosque fire

Swedish police suspect arson after buildings at a mosque in Norrköping in eastern Sweden burned down in the early hours of Friday morning. READ  

Opinion
'Moving wasn't a choice, Sweden called to me'

'Moving wasn't a choice, Sweden called to me'

Caught in an identity limbo and surrounded by often apathetic "love refugees", The Local's resident Swedophile Solveig Rundquist wonders if she's the only expat who moved to Sweden for the culture alone. READ  

Swedish inmates to receive digital tablets
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Swedish inmates to receive digital tablets

Sweden's Prison and Probation Services are beginning a project in which suspected criminals will be given surf tablets to look at evidence against them. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Blog updates

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

726
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se