CA Stories

Dear Sweden (You fucked up) at Almedalen 2016

Subtopia hits Sweden during the political week of Almedalen in a polished punk rock style backed up by the mature voices of Agnieszka Wiśniewska (Krytyka Polityczna, Poland), Mika Buljevic (Culture2Commons/Booksa, Croatia), Vitalie Sprinceana (Oberliht, Moldova) and Swedish stand-up comedian Özz Nujen.

The political week in Visby on the island of Gotland off the Swedish east coast attracts political parties, lobbyists, media and advocating NGOs. Scheduled in the first week of July, the event ends the Swedish government semester and makes a full use of the news-dry month of July. The parties in the parliament get one day each on the main stage (in the Almedalen Park, hence the name of the event). They present new – or in the case of this year – damn old – ideological lines and ideas. In parallel to this “main programme” there’s a couple of thousands of seminars and activities produced, all fighting for attention.

There is something rotten in the country of Sweden

There are tactical rather than ideological reasons for something that is a wave of nationalism nouveau in the Swedish political discourse. The shift is due to the rise of a nationalist populist party. A silly amount of effort and political investment was put into being ‘the most Swedish’ of the political lot during the Almedalen week. However, since there is little to no shared idea around these national values, the actual debate was around the right to define these values. A majority of party leaders tried to forge a political sword out of a hash of anti-rape policies (apparently very Swedish), fika and rainy summers. Turning most of the event into a strange flag waving contest unseen in post-war Swedish politics.

Here are some horrifying examples of what was going on: Moderaterna (leader of the right wing opposition) promised to deport more non-citizen criminals, the Christian Democrats were literally using a waving Swedish flag as backdrop for their speech and the Social Democratic leader (and Sweden’s prime minister) mentioned ‘Sweden’ 40 times during his 30 minute speech (or 1.3 ‘Swedens’ a minute). So in Almedalen 2016 the Swedish self-image has rarely been more exposed.

Enter ‘Dear Sweden, you fucked up’

So while everyone wrapped themselves in the flag,  Subtopia invited Özz Nujen (Swedish stand-up comedian), and fellow Connected Action for the Commons hubs Agnieszka Wiśniewska (Krytyka Polityczna, Poland), Mika Buljevic (Culture2Commons/Booksa, Croatia) and Vitalie Sprinceana (Oberliht, Moldova) to dissect the Swedish self-image. Designed as a classic roast and only 23 minutes long the event was attended by 400 people (in Almedalen that’s at least 8 times the average); it broke the audience record on the venue that hosted us (the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet) and the audience outside blocked the street.

The video below is presented, unfortunately for copyright reasons, without the 10 minute introduction by Özz Nujen. On the other hand, you get 10 minutes of condensed goodness from Agnieszka, Vitalie and Mika (yes, that’s in order of appearance).

I work as a Project Coordinator for Subtopia within ECF’s Connected Action for the Commons programme. I started out in the advertising world (which I hated) and soon checked out and ran away with the circus, literally, working as a tour manager for Swedish contemporary circus company Cirkus Cirkör. The last few years I have been working as a Communication Director for Subtopia. When I’m not working with Subtopia, I am pre-occupied with other frameworking and content producing organisations spanning small theatre companies in the rural south of Sweden to European networks. I provide strategic support and organise events for, among others, Halmstad International Street Theatre Festival (Halmstad, SE), Trans Europe Halles (Lund, SE). I represent performing arts on the regional Creative Board of Skåne and spend most of my time in the (objectively) most beautiful place on earth (Swedish south coast).