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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Can residents in Sweden vote in this summer’s EU elections?

The year 2024 is a bumper one for elections, among them the European elections which are scheduled for June. Sweden is of course a member of the EU – so can foreign residents vote in the elections that will almost certainly affect their daily lives?

Can residents in Sweden vote in this summer's EU elections?

Across Europe, people will go to the polls in early June to select their representatives in the European Parliament, with 21 seats up for grabs in Sweden. 

European elections usually see a much lower turnout than national elections: in 2019 only 55 percent of those eligible voted, compared to 84 percent in the 2022 national election. 

But the elections can still be important in Swedish domestic politics, allowing voters to show their dissatisfaction with the sitting government, bringing momentum to parties and party leaders who do well, and allowing new parties, like in the past the Pirate Party or the Feminist Initiative, to achieve real political power.  

When to vote

In Sweden, the election will be held on June 9th, but you can vote in advance (förtidsrösta) from May 22nd.

Each municipality will typically set up one or more special voting places, often in a public library, where you can go and vote early if you have already decided which party you want to vote for, or are worried you will not be able to find time on election day. 

Those eligible to vote who are outside Sweden on election day, can send a postal vote from April 25th.

They can also vote at an overseas voting station, which are normally found at Swedish embassies, from May 16th.  

Who can vote? 

Swedish citizens who are over the age of 18 on election day – including dual nationals – can vote in European elections, even if they don’t live in Sweden. They must, however, have been registered as living in Sweden at some time in the past. 

Non-Swedish citizens who are living in Sweden can only vote if they have citizenship of an EU country. So for example Irish, French or German citizens living in Sweden can vote in European elections but Americans, Indians, Australians and so on cannot.

This is different from local and regional elections in Sweden, for which being a resident for three years in the municipality or region is enough to be eligible.

Brits in Sweden used to be able to vote before Brexit, but now cannot. 

If you are an EU citizen registered as living in Sweden, you should probably have already received a letter from the Swedish Election Authority (Valmyndigheten), asking to you apply to be included or excluded from the Swedish election register for the EU election.

The letter should include a form which you need to send in to the regional government where you live. Under EU rules, you are only vote in one country’s EU election.

How does the election work?

The system for European elections differs from most countries’ domestic polls.

MEPs are elected once every five years. Each country is given an allocation of MEPs roughly based on population size.

At present there are 705 MEPs. Germany – the country in the bloc with the largest population – has the most while the smallest number belong to Malta with just six.

Sweden elects its MEPs through direct proportional representation via the “list” system, so that parties gain the number of MEPs equivalent to their share of the overall vote. MEPs do not represent a particular region. 

So for example if the Social Democrats win 35 percent of the overall vote they will get 7 of the total of 21 MEPs. Exactly who gets to be an MEP is decided in advance by the parties who publish their candidate lists in priority order.

So let’s say that the Social Democrats do get 35 percent of the vote – then the people named from 1 to 7 on their list get to be MEPs, and the people lower down on the list do not.

In the run-up to the election, the parties decide on who will be toppkandidater (candidates heading the list) and these people will almost certainly be elected.

Once in parliament, parties usually seek to maximise their influence by joining one of the “blocks” made up of parties from neighbouring countries that broadly share their interests and values eg centre-left, far-right, green.

The parliament alternates between Strasbourg and Brussels.