Almedalen: Sweden’s annual politics extravaganza kicks off on Gotland

Thousands of people from Sweden's political, business and media elite gather each year on the island of Gotland for a week of events and seminars, and the 2019 edition of the event has just begun.

Almedalen: Sweden's annual politics extravaganza kicks off on Gotland
Visitors arrive at Almedalen for the festival's first day, dedicated to the Green Party. Photo: Henrik Montgomery / TT

Almedalen, the name given to the eight-day event, began on June 30th this year and will continue on Sunday, June 7th. Each of Sweden's major political parties has a day dedicated to them, so the length of the festival is determined by how many parties are represented in the country's parliament at the time.

More than 40,000 people typically attend Almedalen, 95 percent of them coming from outside Gotland. 

The 2019 event has around 750 fewer events than the previous year — around 3,550 in total — which could be because 2018 was both Almedalen's 50-year anniversary and took place in an election year.

The decline in events could also show falling interest in the event. Almedalen began began 1968 when Social Democrat Olof Palme, who would go on to become prime minister, gave an impromptu speech while his family was spending their summer holiday on Gotland. This year, prime minister Stefan Löfven will not attend the event, with three other current ministers also skipping Almedalen.

Instead of appearing at Almedalen, Löfven will go on a tour of the country, which he also did in 2017. 

READ ALSO: Ten things that make a visit to Gotland unforgettable


island – ö

parliament – riksdag

event – evenemang

prime minister – statsminister

tour – turné

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Swedish political parties call for ban on conversion therapy

Multiple political parties in Sweden's parliament want to ban so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change young LGBT+ individuals’ sexual orientation.

Swedish political parties call for ban on conversion therapy

The Liberals have campaigned for a ban for some time, and a motion has now been submitted to parliament by the Social Democrats. Now, the Moderates and the Centre Party are joining them in calling for conversion therapy to be made illegal, Sweden’s public broadcaster Radio Ekot reports.

“The entire idea is that homosexuality is an illness which can and should be treated. That is, obviously, completely incorrect and a very out-of-place view in a modern society,” Centre’s spokesperson on legal issues, Johan Hedin, told the radio.

Conversion therapy consists of subjecting LGBT+ individuals to pressure or force to hide their sexuality or gender identity. According to MUCF, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society, it occurs “to a not insignificant extent” in Sweden.

“We think there should be a ban. Sweden should be a tolerant country, where nonsense like this quite simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Johan Forssell, the Moderate’s legal spokesperson told Radio Ekot.