Politiians, bankers, bureaucrats, community- and business leaders have all gathered once again this week in the southern coastal town of Arendal, to disuss and debate the major issues of the day. This year’s gathering is particularly important because of the upcoming parliamentary election.
“Eveyone who works with socially relavant issues are in Arendal,” Gunnar Mathisen of public relations firm Geelmuyden Kiese told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “If you’re not in Arendal, you’re not relevant.”
That may seem like an arrogant and elitist comment, but there’s no denying that Arendalsuka, as the arrangement is called, attracts the power structure and social movers and shakers of Norway. It was modelled on Sweden’s Almedalsveckan, held every year on the island of Gotland and viewed as a top political forum in the country.
State broadcaster NRK hosted this campaign season’s first major party leader debate from Arendal earlier this week. “I think Arendal has become a very important meeting place for social debate,” Jan Ottesen of PR firm Gambit told DN. As out-of-towners converge on Arendal, the week has also become a lucrative opportunity for local homeowners to rent out their properties at a premium, and then leave town.