• Sweden edition
 
Almedalen political week kicks off in Sweden

Almedalen political week kicks off in Sweden

Published: 04 Jul 2011 17:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Jul 2011 17:12 GMT+02:00

Sweden’s annual political week, the so-called “Almedalen Week” (Almedalsveckan), started on Sunday and will go on until for eight days, on the Baltic Island of Gotland. Contributor Oliver Gee talks to representatives from the two largest political parties; the Social Democrats and the Moderates, to find out more.

Almedalsveckan first began in 1968 when Sweden’s then prime minister, Olof Palme, was due to take the ferry home from a summer holiday in Gotland (an island off Stockholm’s coast).

Local residents asked if he could stay a moment and give a speech. Standing on the back of a nearby truck, Palme spoke to the small crowd, thus beginning what was to become an annual Swedish tradition.

43 years on, things have evolved enormously. The solitary speaker (and the truck) is long gone, and the event has become a platform for Swedish politicians from every party to have a voice.

Thousands flock to the island to participate in the workshops, speeches, seminars, and other political activities.

Janica Sörestedt, the Social Democrats’ local representative, believes the strength of the event is its openness.

“It’s open for everyone, from the most highly educated to the ordinary citizen” she told The Local.

“Everyone and anyone can participate in such a wide range of activities. This is the essence of Almedalen.”

According to Sörestedt, people come because they want to connect, meet new people, and educate themselves.

“It’s a great chance to get an understanding of what will be the next question, who and what will be the next big issues. People can get a real feel for these things as the proceedings unfold.”

Johan Elmberg, the Head of Press for the Moderate Party, explains “Almedalen is the absolute centre of Swedish politics and media coverage for a whole week.”

“The main objective of Almedalsveckan is to stimulate political debate, but there’s a lot more than that on offer,” he said.

A whole lot more, in fact. This year promises the biggest week so far, with some 1450 events planned for the week.

Politicians, journalists, lobbyists, unions, NGO's, and company representatives are expected to make up the majority of the crowd. Last year some 11 000 people attended.

Every political party of the country has their own day, which culminates with the party leader speaking in the evening.

And for the first time, Almedalsveckan will last eight days due to the inauguration of Sweden’s eighth political party, the Swedish Democrats, earlier this year.

However, while the politics is a large part of the week, it is by no means the only focus. It is also a chance for people and companies to discuss ideas, host workshops, and create an ‘island community’ of socializing, and sharing ideas and knowledge.

“People come as it’s a unique opportunity to communicate different issues, to attend or arrange seminars or make new connections by networking,” said Elmberg.

In fact, communication is the focus of the event. As the event exploded in popularity in the 2000’s, measures were taken to ensure the week was not transformed into a political marketplace.

“People were selling ideas instead of discussing them,” Sörestedt said.

“We had car companies wanting to sell their products, to cover Almedalen in advertising – but we put a stop to it. Almedalen is not a marketplace; it’s a way to meet people, to connect, and to get your ideas out.”

The transformed event has been so successful for Sweden that other countries have been taking note. Denmark was the first to follow Sweden’s lead, initiating its own similar week of political festivities earlier this month, on the island of Bornholm.

One may wonder if the festival’s popularity can be attributed to Sweden’s democratic and casual lifestyle.

“Sweden’s freedom and openness are reflected in the festival itself,” said Sörestedt.

“This is a country where our politicians can walk around the streets as ordinary people. You don't get that in every country.”

According to Sörestedt, one of the best things with the week is that everyone can join in.

“There’s definitely something for everyone, no matter your tastes or preferences,” she said. “You can just walk down the streets and feel the unique, engaging environment. You have to come to Gotland, you have to take it in!”

Events began on Sunday, July 3. The week’s final event begins at 13.00 on Sunday, July 10.

Oliver Gee

Related links:

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV
Grossed out Ica woman at Easter dinner. Screengrab from Ica

Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV

A Swedish supermarket has decided to withdraw its Easter commercial, after Christians complained it made a mockery of communion - "They crossed the line." Sweden's advertising watchdog will now look into the case. READ () »

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut
The search and rescue operation in northern Sweden. File photo: TT

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut

The 22-year-old man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in northern Sweden had his sentence reduced on Wednesday, in part due to his "peculiar personality". READ () »

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

An elementary school in southern Sweden was evacuated on Wednesday and dozens of pupils were taken to hospital after the smell of gas spread through the rooms. READ () »

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock
The Flymen Church weathercock in all its newly gilded glory. Photo: TT

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock

A Swedish churchwarden has reacted with joy upon finding out the parish has Sweden's nicest weathercock. READ () »

Greens push rich tax to finance schools
Per Bolund of The Greens. File photo: TT

Greens push rich tax to finance schools

Sweden's third largest party The Greens revealed its shadow budget on Wednesday, targeting schools and youth employment. High earners would have to pitch in more. READ () »

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'
Ibiza, you say? File photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'

Mythbusting Swedish researchers have found no link between gushing about your upcoming holiday online and returning to an emptied house. They told The Local that a trip to Ikea could be much more dangerous. READ () »

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft
The people in this picture are not those from the story. Photo: TT

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft

A woman in Gothenburg who accused a beggar of robbing her has been charged with fraud and false accusations. READ () »

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Photo: Kungahuset

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess

Sweden's royal family has set the date for the baptism of Princess Leonore. READ () »

The Local List
Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

With Swedish Game of Thrones fans frothing at the mouth at the season four premiere, The Local revisits its list of ten reasons why the hit books and show are (probably) based in Sweden. READ () »

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
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 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

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

742
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