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POLITICS

Almedalsveckan costs authorities millions

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.

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.

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