Biggest week of the year for Swedish politicians
The biggest week of the year for Sweden's politicians and lobbyists has arrived as Almedalen week has begun in the medieval town of Visby on the Baltic island of Gotland. Almost anyone who is anyone has decamped to the medieval city of Visby to take part in the week of seminars, speeches and networking.
On Sunday evening, the Christian Democrats will be the first party on the main stage to kick-off the week with a speech. At a press conference earlier, the Christian Democrats proposed lowering class sizes for pre-school children.
Each of the eight parliamentary parties is randomly allotted an evening during the week to take the centre stage, culminating with the Social Democrats next Sunday .
Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund is due to speak at 7:PM. The Christian Democrats are one of the four alliance parties in government but have been struggling in the polls. Various polls over the weekend have the opposition block with almost a ten percent lead over the government alliance.
This year, the penultimate Almedalen before the 2014 election, is set to be dominated by the focus on jobs, the economy, education, the healthcare system and integration.
Once again it will be a record week. Around 2,250 programme events are planned this year during the week, compared with about 1,800 last year. Many newspapers, radio and television have booked their own stages this year.
It will be the largest operation yet there for the Swedish Intelligence Agency (Säpo).
Säpo's presence at Almedalen this week consists mostly of body guards, but even analysts, security chauffeurs, and intelligence officers.
"There are quite a number of security people we are responsible for that are in place down there. The whole event and their presence has increased in recent years and we have had to adapt to it," says Johan Gellerstedt, Chief of Staff of SAPO's command at Almedalen to news agency TT.
Almedalen began in the 60s when then-Prime Minister Olof Palme, of the left-leaning Social Democrats, held a speech there while on holiday. Originally, it was mainly left wing parties who gathered and discussed ideas there, but over the years, it has expanded to include just about every political persuasion.