Socialism ? Democracy ? Deep understanding ? Investing in human factor ? What about all that ?

( trying ) understanding the “ Swedish “ dynamics

( trying ) understanding the “ Swedish “ dynamics
Building societies is no easy task. But how can we make: 1- democratic life 2 - power sharing and succession 3 - dialogue

a part of our life without losing the “ edge “ of the great competition in politics within the society ?

How to compete without contention ?
How to disagree without fighting ?
How can we be moved by one goal: to serve humanity ?

The practice of democracy should be part of our daily life so that we get used to it and practice it : breathing it like air and drinking it like water

We are taking 3 facets from Sweden, in an attempt to analyze them and find out how can they help in what we are discussing.

First facet : The Almedalen Week

In an Op published by the local, Erik Zsiga is director at Kekst CNC in Sweden, was of the view that Every country needs an Almedalen Week.

For those who are not familiar with Swedish politics, the Wikipedia helps a lot here : the Almedalen (in literal English translation: The Elm Valley) is a park in the Swedish city of Visby on the island of Gotland. It is well known in Sweden as the central site of the annual Almedalen Week.

Historically, In medieval times the area, just outside the city walls, was the city harbour. Due to the post-glacial rebound, the port over time grew too shallow and a new one had to be constructed further away from the city, where the sea is deeper. In the 19th century the area went by the name Gamle Hamn (Old Port). When the area was planted with elms in the 1870s, the name Almedalen was coined.

Now, the name Almedalen is generally associated with the Almedalen Week, an annual event in Visby, which is an important meeting place for everyone involved in Swedish politics. During the week, which takes place during the 27th week of every year, representatives from the major political parties in Sweden take turns giving speeches in the park.

Around the millennium, NGOs and lobbying groups started to come. Companies then saw the opportunity to meet with a range of their stakeholder groups. With social media added to the mix by the 2010s, the week had evolved into its present format – a combination of politics and business, professionalism and party.

But why Erik, a former Press Secretary and Spokesperson to Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, is of this view ? Why do we need the Almedalen at all , at first place ?

He went on saying that this Sweden’s annual political festival could bring huge benefits to democracy if it were transported abroad. Adding that a lot can be learned from the Week that attracts some 45,000 visitors, who attend workshops, speeches, debates and receptions in pop-up locations like shops, gardens and warehouses.

One could argue that the Almedalen Week is very Swedish in its forms – equal, consensus driven and based on dialogue. But it is also informal and intimate. And most important, focused on contributing to democracy.

He is of the view that:

1- In these times of misconceptions towards the elites, the rural-urban divide and higher tensions in the public debate, an Almedalen Week would be healthy for every Western democracy. The recent political development has proven the need for inclusiveness, established political movements to renew and the public dialogue to be reinstated.

2- Though Sweden is by all means no exception to these developments, the impact is probably less due to Almedalen Week. In several ways, it benefits Swedish politics and business: For one thing, it gives anyone access to politicians and business leaders.

3- The week could be described as a national mini-Davos Conference.

Wow : Think of a nation having its own version of Davis.

I found the most interesting point in what comes next :

A broad layer of grass-root activists from even the most niche of NGO’s attend the week as well. So do citizens with no affiliation but just an interest in a specific question or society in general:The culture is open-minded, allowing anyone to ask a question or express an opinion.

All in all, the seminars are opportunities for the main stakeholders in all fields of Swedish society to meet, and focus on idea creation in a way that is not possible in the daily life.

But still the question is not fully answered: how will Every country benefits from an Almedalen Week ?

Here you go :

1- It leads to unexpected meetings and cooperation. The mix of spheres and an open mindset is a terrific environment for unexpected meetings across dividing lines and conventional groupings.

2- it reveals democracy in its beautiful shaping : It is not only civil society and citizens getting access to politicians and business leaders, it is the other way round as well.

3 - It is a platform for knowledge sharing. Most of the seminars bring more than just one speaker to the stage. Having five panelists or more is not unusual. This means that some 20,000-30,000 expert perspectives and insights are added to the discussion during the week, educating leaders about fields they may know little or nothing about, or about fields they work with already or simply can just get inspired by.

4-It helps leaders make better strategic decisions. In a time with disruptive technologies, climate challenge and other mega-trends reshaping business, environments like this are crucial.

That’s why this could be the next innovative export product from Sweden. An Isle of Wight Week in the UK or Rügen Week in Germany will not be full solutions to the crisis of democracy, but they could be a part of it.

 

Second facet : Järvaveckan

Järvaveckan aims to bring people from the Swedish community together with their elected officials in order to spur political engagement and bring down barriers in the community. 

Järvaveckan originated in 2013 as a much smaller film festival, with only 600 people, meant for the community in which the founder, Ahmed Abdirahman lived. After it began to gain traction, he decided to begin inviting political party leaders to speak. Six years later it is one of the largest events of its kind, drawing 30,000 visitors in 2018.

"It was all about how can we make sure people can get to know their leaders, the ones they elected who are responsible for bettering their lives," founder Abdirahman told The Local. "And how do we defend our democracy in an area where the voting turnout is so low."

Originally from Somalia, Abdirahman came to Sweden 20 years ago as a refugee escaping a civil war.

1-The festival seeks to bring people from every background together.

This mission has been met with success as there are over 150 nationalities represented and 42 percent of the attendees are under 26 years old.

2- Every aspect of the festival has a meaning behind it, even the placement. Abdirahman specifically holds Järvaveckan on the site which marks the invisible line that separates the Spånga-Tensta community. One side is home to mainly immigrants and people of low socioeconomic status while the other houses people on the other end of that spectrum.

The hope is that by hosting the event geographically between the two communities, both will feel welcome to come.
"We need to bring everyone here. We don’t want to be an island. We are all Swedish people," he said. "It is our responsibility to bridge the gaps between ’us’ and ’them’."

3- "Our goal is to build bridges and break the segregation because the potential for growth in Sweden is in this generation of the immigrant community. They need our help, and it has to come from us as the immigrant community," he said.

Third facet : @sweden or Curators of Sweden

I put it in third place, because it was a timely project that started and was ultimately supposed, as any other project, to come to an end.

Curators of Sweden is a social media campaign initiated by the government agency Swedish Institute and VisitSweden on Twitter. It launched December 10, 2011 with the main concept of a rotating spokesperson, or rather a curator, on the official Twitter account of Sweden, @sweden.

1- democracy of “ the grass roots “ :The project hands the official Twitter account @Sweden to a new Swedish person every week to manage, with the expressed goal to manifest Swedish diversity and progressiveness through their own life, personality and views.

2- this could help democracy around the globe : The campaign has been widely reported in media around the world and inspired the launch of many similar projects. The Twitter account @PeopleofLeeds started January 15, 2012. January 18, 2012, @WeAreAustralia and @TweetWeekUSA, followed by @CuratorsMexico and @BasquesAbroad January 21.

3- The beauty of democracy lies in its ability to correct itself : In 2017, the Swedish Institute blocked 14,000 Twitter accounts from interacting with @sweden. Among the blocked were journalists, authors, politicians (some elected members of the Riksdag), businessmen and ambassadors. When the block list was reported in the media, the Swedish Institute lifted the blocks and apologized.

4- Though the project was closed in 2018, but it continues to inspire everybody that spreading the word is of no danger, just give it a room for discussion.

Editorial of the website +
Sources: Wikipedia + @sweden + The Local

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