Malmedalen: New political festival launched in troubled Swedish suburb

A Swedish social entrepreneur has launched a new rival to Sweden’s political festival Almedalen in Rosengård, a district of Malmö that for some is synonymous with segregation, unemployment, shootings and riots.

Malmedalen: New political festival launched in troubled Swedish suburb
Christian Glasovic is overseeing the raising of the tents in Herrgården. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
While the 'Malmedalen' festival won't feature Prime Minister Stefan Löfven or the leaders of any of the four parties of the centre-right Alliance opposition, some big names on the Swedish political scene will nonetheless be there.
Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallström is coming down to attend the event, set to launch on Saturday.
Mattias Karlsson, the group leader for the far-right Sweden Democrats in the Swedish parliament, is also scheduled to attend, as are Gustav Fridolin, Jonas Sjöstedt and Gudrun Schyman, the leaders of the left-wing Green, Left and Feminist Initiative parties respectively. 
Social entrepreneur Christian Glasnovic, who founded the festival, said it aimed to be a more inclusive alternative to Sweden's Almedalen Week. Almedalen, founded 50 years ago, is held on the eastern island of Gotland where political parties, businesses, media, and other organizations gather for seminars and events each July.
“Almedalen is only for the elite. It’s only them who can be there, which is extremely sad and regrettable — the only thing is that it's out on an island and costs a bomb to go,” Glasnovic explained.
The festival will be held in a park in Herrgården, a district of Rosengård where only 52 percent of residents voted in Sweden’s last general election. 
“We want to boost turnout, but we also want to show politicians that they don’t only need to come here and take a picture, but that they can also come and hang out with the people,” Glasnovic added. 
Glasnovic, a youthworker who leads the Malmö group Rörelsen Gatans Röst, says many of those he works with have no idea what phrases like ‘Red-Green government’ or ‘Alliance parties’ mean. He hopes that seeing the politicians in the flesh will help people living in Malmö suburbs better understand who leading politicians are
“At the end of the day, people need to get to know these people,” he said. “It’s very important. You see them mainly on TV in strange debates and strange surroundings, so instead of building up some form of hate or something, its better for these people to come here, get up on a stage and hang out with the people who live here.”  
Glasnovic hopes to translate the speeches into Arabic, Somali and English as well, so that as many as possible of those attending can understand what is being said. There will also be seminars and panel discussions on various subjects. 
The new event has some similarities with Stockholm's Järvaveckan, a week-long political festival held in June in a Stockholm suburb which, like Rosengård, has been characterized by a lower socioeconomic status and higher than average crime rate.