If the election in the UK and USA has shown us anything, it is this. Bring politics closer to the people and you will win.
In the USA, it meant successfully manipulating the beliefs of the disillusioned and the sceptical.
In the UK, it meant focusing on the issues closest to people’s hearts and putting a fire under the asses of young voters.
Politicians in Sweden are, in my opinion, too often remote from the electorate and their reality. This is with one notable distinction in a quickly-growing, right-wing, populist party. This party has now taken the position as the second largest party in Sweden and poses a real threat to the other established parties and their ability to form governments in the future.
Every summer in Sweden, politicians hold a politics week on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. This week brings together all the parties and they discuss and debate the current issues at hand, all televised to a broader Swedish public. I am all for politics and media debates but recently the Gotland Politics Week sits a little uneasy with me. In many ways, it is fantastic but it has moved far from its initial intention of putting politics in focus for the ordinary person. Today, it is more of an elitist gathering of lobbyists, journalists, aides and corporate partners standing in tents sipping free rose wine and partying until the early hours. How can people of the electorate relate to this? How can they even participate when, for example. it costs a lot to travel to remote Gotland and is difficult to find affordable accomodation?
As an alternative to this, a new Politics Week has risen. Initiators from the Stockholm suburbs have decided to bring politics to the people and have arranged a week of political debate and discussion on a football field.
On their website, they write:
‘The purpose of Järva Politics Week is to reduce the distance between politicians and citizens, create better conditions for ordinary people to engage themselves in politics, and put the issues of the local residents on the political agenda. This week gives politicians the opportunity to put forward their policies on exclusion, education, security and marketplace integration directly to the groups who are most impacted.’
It seems like all of the parties have accepted the invitation and most of the party leaders will attend this event to hold a speech.
Hopefully, in the suburbs, looking the real electorate in the eyes, they will realise what is needed to create positive integration, positive change and a positive future for everybody in Sweden.