A Political Activist's Holiday

Marlyn Glen

14 July 2014

With the Referendum fast approaching and a General Election just months later, life for some here may seem as if it will be soon consumed by politics day after day, hour after hour, and news cycle after news cycle.

The summer holidays may be the last break from political hyperactivity for some time to come.

However, there are places in the world that cater for those who cannot go without the life of high adrenalin that politics provides.

Every summer for over 40 years now, political activists in Sweden from all the mainstream political parties have enjoyed a week in the sun in a picturesque setting on an island off the mainland where they can continue to talk and breathe politics 24/7.

It is set in the Almedalen Park in Visby, on the island of Gotland. 

Entry is free to this festival of ideas, open-air meetings, seminars and debates on issues both international and national .

On international issues,Sweden’s first ever female archbishop, Antje Jackelen, is leading a debate on climate change :

“Climate change is probably the biggest common challenge ever faced by humanity.

"But popular concern and the seriousness of the reports on climate are not matched by climate and environment being placed high on the political agenda.”

On national ideas, Sweden’s Equality Minister calls for an increase in compulsory paternity leave for fathers from two to three months .

The Minister Maria Arnholm says that this action would reflect the fact that women have lower pensions than men, adding ,

“We know this because they take the main responsibility for home and family.

“Increasing gender equality in parental leave means we are also increasing opportunities for higher wages and higher pensions.”

It is a time for the free-flow of ideas, casual dress, serious thinking, and informed vigorous debate.

It is a time for long-term thinking, not short-term parliamentary short-term tactics

The talk is of higher order concepts such as “equality”, ”co-operation”, the “common good”, “ civil society”

It is a celebration of politics with participation figures that outshine any formal party political gathering here.

This year’s Almedalen week has just concluded.

There had been a schedule calendar of over 3,000 events, with 25,000 participants, and 50,000 visitors.

The question that Almedalen raises for us is this :

“Could we ever have a similar week for political activists in Scotland ?”



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