I have recently arrived at this year’s politicians’ week in Sweden. It is a conference unlike any other. All politicians gather informally in a small town on an island in Sweden for one week every year.
There is no formal arranger. There is no conference fee. There is no application. People involved in policymaking on the national level just come here the first week of July every year. Pretty much all politicians at the national level, people who want to be politicans at the national level, political reporters, all PR firms on the planet, everybody is present.
The event is even on Wikipedia, albeit in brief.
The value is in the networking. Everybody is here with a blank calendar, so you run into people and grab them for a chat over coffee that would otherwise require two months of planning and scheduling. It is absolutely essential for building networks across party and organization lines.
The parties in Parliament hold one speech each, one party per day, on the main stage. I have just listened to the Green Party and they’re challenging ownership over education — and they’re also being very progressive about it. The current owners of this issue is an ass-backwards party in Sweden that prefer the country as it were in the 1950s and, on top of it all, has the audacity to call themselves liberal. A forward thinking alternative to “more rules, harsher education” would be welcome in Swedish policymaking.
In addition, there are tens of thousands of other events in the week — speeches, debates, everything imaginable.
More reports from the week as we go.