• Sweden edition
 

Almedalsveckan costs authorities millions

Published: 03 Jul 2011 09:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Jul 2011 09:34 GMT+02:00

And so it's time again - buckle your seatbelt, sit up straight and get ready for another veritable orgy of politics, economy and debate.

Swedish politicians, journalists and lobbyists have gathered on the Baltic island of Gotland to partake in Almedalsveckan, the annual "political" week in Sweden.

Doors are thrown wide on Sunday, and the political fest is expected to be bigger than ever before.

"Everyone will be there, from party politicians to big organisations. So it's unavoidable for us to go there too," Urban Bäckström, CEO of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv), told news agency TT.

Once again, Almedalsveckan has blown all previous size records out of the water.

On Thursday, 1449 events were listed on the schedule, close to 650 journalists were registered to attend, and as far as topics go, climate and environment were top of the pops, ahead of healthcare and enterprise.

And this orgy certainly doesn't come cheap. This year's week in Almedalen is set to cost Swedish authorities roughly 5.2 million kronor ($829,000), reported the newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Sunday.

"The question is if participating in Almedalen is just a way to get a pleasant paid vacation, or if it really fits within the agency's mission," political scientist Peter Esaiasson said to the paper.

Out of the 38 authorities present, the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) is investing the most with their 900,000 kronor. 740,000 kronor makes the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) runner-up.

This year Almedalsveckan runs from July 3rd to July 10th. An extra day has been added to the traditional seven, to make room for the Riksdag's newest party, the Sweden Democrats.

The seed to the Almedalen week was planted in 1968, when prime minister and Social Democratic leader Olof Palme stood on the back of a truck and spoke, under the elm trees in Visby's park.

Few could have expected this to grow to the size it has, but whether it is a positive development or a negative one is a matter of debate.

Critics opine that Almedalsveckan is a waste of money, resulting in very few serious political suggestions.

But Stig-Björn Ljunggren, political scientist and social democratic debater, says that critics have misinterpreted the week's purpose.

"It's extremely relevant. It's a industry meeting for those in the art of bringing out a message."

No one could be happier about this than Visby's many restaurateurs, who will be selling canapés, sandwiches, salads and dinners in enormous quantities.

Not to mention the amount of emptied glasses with varying contents.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:10 July 3, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Who cares! We are used to pay with our takes everything. That we have in Sweden poor children, who cares. That there are many who has not a shelter, who cares. That the nurses are badly paid, who cares. That the health system is about to fall, who cares. The only thing that matters now is Almedalen and, who cares about that.
11:08 July 3, 2011 by Mb 65
Living in a Democracy means that the politicians take everything and give back nothing. Isn't that exactly what dictators do.
11:24 July 3, 2011 by krattan
This is probably the most important annual political event in Sweden. 5 million certainly doesn't sound like a lot. Had expected more.

Just consider how much money the state gets every year through taxes of various kinds. A quick calculation out of GDP and current tax levels gave me the result 1 378 484 352 000 Kronor. I don't take any responsibility for the accuracy but do conclude that it is a few Kronors. :)
12:37 July 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
5 million krowns ($829,00) is probably less than what the US pays for Michelle Obama's hair dresser.
13:15 July 3, 2011 by voiceofreason
@Swedesmith

Educate yourself and find a better anology. You don't think we are gullible to believe that Michelle spends that much on her hair. I think you need to read more about her cheap fashion style.
14:30 July 3, 2011 by jacquelinee
I am happy that the taxpayers pay for a lavish vacation for them. I am SO SURE their salaries, bonuses, and tax breaks do not leave them able to afford to pay for one on their own. Shame I have to scrimp and save my money all year to afford to go on a meger one. How does one get a government job anyway? Which rich persons a_s do I have to kiss to get into government? Sure would like to know. But I know the drill. Raise taxes and cut wages (especially the immigrants who, after all, don't matter right?) to line the pockets and pamper the government employees, their families and their affluent assocaites. Who says government officials are dumb? Have another chunk of Faukorv folks and pay up those taxes! The government needs steak, lobster, champagne and expensive entertainment for the festivities on their week long vacation we are paying for.
15:50 July 3, 2011 by Maggie Malay
...just lovely what you can do when somebody else pays for it
16:12 July 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
@voice of reason

http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=105957

The first lady of the United States is not elected, has no constitutional duties and receives no salary, but that doesn't mean the position is without its privileges - including a staff of 22 White House employees who make a combined nearly $1.5 million per year
16:54 July 3, 2011 by jacquelinee
How much so you thing good old Sylvia's staff get paid a year?????
19:24 July 3, 2011 by calebian22
Well rebutted Swedesmith. Even though your first comment was tongue in "chief," which flew right past voice of doesn't have a reason, Michelle Obama and her goodwill vacation cost American taxpayers the same amount. At least in Visby, those people are elected and were probably proud of Sweden before they or their partners were elected.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2008936/Michelle-Obama-s-goodwill-tour-Africa-cost-taxpayers-800-000.html
22:19 July 3, 2011 by PonceDeLeon
Why should this week be any different?
02:51 July 4, 2011 by jacquelinee
Spoken like true brainwashed Swedish citizens. I too would be proud of Sweden if they gave me a high class, all expense paid, week long holiday for my family and working pals!

But then again, I might feel a bit guilty knowing there are overtaxed, hardworking people in Sweden who struggle all year just to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. They save a bit so on their holiday they can go fishing, or maybe take the family camping. But, I guess as long as I am having a HE-L of a good time who cares! Right? And, as for what is going on in the USA. WE LIVE IN SWEDEN PEOPLE!!! HELLO! What Michelle Obama does has NOTHING to do with OUR taxes! Get your heads out of your as-es.
07:51 July 4, 2011 by karex
It's a matter of ROI. If this event is as Esiasson says and the benefits outweight the costs then it should be justified. I would however demand to see the Business Case before commiting to an acceptance.

But I suspect it's more in line with what Ljunggren says and if it's a platform for people who practice tha art of bringing out a message, I can think of much cheaper ways. How about placing an ad in the newspapers? The investments by the different sectors are way too high, particularly the Health and Welfare: how many ambulance runs would 740 KSEK pay for?

@jacquelinee, don't even think of attempting to enter politics unless you have managed to worm your way into their exclusive "little boys club", now also full of women. You would need to invest years of a**-kissing, lobbying, favor-giving and being at the right parties with the right people at the right time. Then maybe you might have a small chance...
10:07 July 4, 2011 by cogito
Voice of Reason #5. Michelle Obama's cheap lifestyle?

You actually believe what Michelle Obama she says about her simple clothes in interviews? Do you believe in the tooth fairy, too?

In reality, while preaching "shared sacrifice" to those her husband has made jobless, she is the Big Spender among presidential wives.

She wore $540 Lanvin sneakers for a photo op. with the homeless.

March 2011. "Mrs Obama wore one of Krakoff's bags to her daughter's parent-teacher conference a…the bold-colored Reed Krakoff's bag Michelle Obama carried to the conference costs nearly $1,000

She was photographed carrying $6,000 bag on her trip to Europe. Though, to be fair, the W.H. issued a press release denying it:

"White House denies that First Lady carried a $5,950 bag

July 9th 2009: Earlier this week (while strolling the wooded landscape outside of Moscow), she carried a sexy black clutch, which Italian luxury house VBH boasts is their alligator manila bag - with a retail sticker price of $5,950.

"The White House says she was carrying the $875 VBH patent leather clutch…

Told that Obama's office denied the bag was the high-end VBH clutch, Kelly Vitko, a rep for the company replied, 'It's definitely ours....'

It's not about the money. It's not about her vanity. it's about the claptrap she spouts about "shared sacrifice."
11:34 July 4, 2011 by jacquelinee
WHO CARES ABOUT WHAT MICHELLE OBAMA IS WEARING???? AGAIN PEOPLE WE ARE IN SWEDEN!!!! How much did Sylvias shoes cost`? Pretty sure SHE is not shopping at ÖB or ECO. Michelle is the American equivalent of the queen at this moment. But she is irrelevant to Swedes and their economy. Do you think Philippa Reinfeldt gets her clothes from Myorna when she is addressing the issues of Sweden's Poor? ( If she EVER is addressing the issues of Sweden's Poor) AND all of this is off topic.

The Fact of the matter here is that The Swedish Government is stealing money that the taxpayers have given to improve this country to have a big, week long FEST. They (yet again) have made themselves a loophole so they can get a great vacation without it costing them any money personally. As I sais before- Taxpayer, pay those taxes, have a slice of Falukorv and if you get really lucky, you maybe can watch the Govn't have a holiday on TV seeing as you are too broke from taxation to take one yourself.
12:06 July 4, 2011 by cogito
@jacquelinee,

I think she was brought up (by poster #4) as an egregious example of hypocrisy, the point being that politicos everywhere do not practice what they preach. And that Swedish politicians and their lackeys are probably modest in their luxury lifestyle compared to Michelle O.
14:30 July 4, 2011 by jacquelinee
@cognito

Sure. A truly brainwashed Swedish answer. No outrage, no anger.....just "Well , the States are worse" Of COURSE all govenments are corrupt. Government in it's inception was formed so one group could legally steal from another. That is the premise of goverment. You should be outraged that YOUR Swedish government, a socialitsic one (for the people wasn't it????) is robbing from its´already taxed to death citizens to have another "fest". As if their high salaries, tax breaks, short work days and shorter work weeks, exorbitent pensions, expense accounts etc etc could not allow them to pay for their own vacations.

Well, bend over cognito, it won't be very long till you willingly get s cr-w-d by your lovely Swedish government, at least you won't get s cr-w-d as hard as you would by Mrs. O right???
10:36 July 5, 2011 by cogito
@jacquelinee

errrr. I'm not Swedish.
11:17 July 5, 2011 by jacquelinee
Well then, THAT explains why you are indifferent to the taxation plight in Sweden, and the obsession with Michelle Obama and her wardrobe. You are American. Perhaps you should be presenting your riveting commentary on an American forum instead of a SWEDISH one. Swedes have enough of a problem trying to open their eyes to the poor governing practices in Sweden without someone trying to redirect their attention to a different country that does not directly impact their paychecks.
11:52 July 5, 2011 by cogito
@poor Jackquelinee, Ummm, you're wrong again.

I do pay taxes in Sweden.

And last I checked this is not a Swedish forum. It is open to anyone, anywhere. If you wish an exclusively Swedish (or "SWEDISH," as you write), why not join DN's or Svd or Expressen.se?

Here's little rhetorical tip: writing in ALL CAPS is the equivalent of screaming.

(The truth about Big Spender Michelle O. really seems to rattle you.)
13:48 July 5, 2011 by jacquelinee
I am well aware that all caps is the equivalent of SCREAMING! I use it for emphasis here since their is no availablility of bold text. (which I am pretty sure you understand and are only trying to be inflamatory)

And if you really do pay taxes here and are ok with the govn't robbing you, then you are not as bright as I actually gave you credit for. Hence, as stated in a previous post...BEND OVER! ( that is emphasis by the way) ¨

As far as what Michelle Obama wears or her accessories- I think it is shameful to waste that kind of money on fluff when people everywhere are in poverty. Similarily I was disgusted after the disaster of the sunomi of 2005 when I witnessed Paris Hilton and 50 cent on a award show on MTM comparing their bling and discussing the outrageous amount it cost. I felt ashamed to be a human being at that moment.

However, the article we are supposedly discussing is not about Michelle Obama or Paris Hilton and 50 cent. It is about the rip off the Swedish government if pulling over the eyes of Sweden citizens from all cultures and ethnicities. And it is a huge rip off.
16:25 July 5, 2011 by jacquelinee
Mrs. Obama is not the issue here!!! SHEESH! As I said in an earlier post, she is basically the reining Queen of the USA at this moment and can not dress in rags from the Goodwill for Petes Sake. Severe excess is disgraceful, that is true. I have no idea what her ensembles cost. MY point was about the statements Paris Hilton and 50 cent made. Excess at the expense of the less fortunate or the poor is a disgrace. That is the point I am making. President Obama is entitled to a salary, to earn a living as is every other human. If he is buying his wife and family clothes from his salary, it is no ones business although it can be a bit of poor taste when dressing in expensive gear when adressing the isuue of poverty. Where I have a problem is when occurences happen, as is with what THIS (sorry cognito) article is dealing with. When the elected govenment officials pocket their salary and use citizens tax dollars for personal pleasure, gain, indulgence etc. Can we PPPLLLEEAAASSSEE get off of Mr. O and deal with the topic this article is dealing with for the love of G-O-D!
09:21 July 6, 2011 by cogito
"No one's business?"

Actually, Queen Michelle's extravagance is the American taxpayers' business.

And, once again, it's not about clothes, it's about her spending.

On her little jaunt to Marbella, Spain last year she reserved 60 rooms at a 5-star hotel at the average cost of $2,500 per night. She took 40 friends with her for the fabulous vacation. Method of Transportation: Air Force Two.

No, my dear. It was not paid for out of his salary. It was paid for by taxpayers.

As for Almedals week, it happens every year and every year there is grousing. This is Sweden. It won't change. And besides, there are far more egregious examples of Swedish politicians throwing away our hard-earned kronor.
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