Folkemødet, The people’s meeting
Folkemødet (The People’s Meeting) provides the setting and the framework for interaction to make sure that the politicians not only engage with other politicians, but also with ordinary citizens – and by doing that Folkemødet believes that they can diminish the gap between the people in power and the people without power.
Purpose and vision
The purpose of Folkemødet is to bring people together. No matter whether you are a politician, lobbyist or ordinary citizen you are first and foremost included in the category "people". When saying that we want to bring people together we emphasize that it is all kinds of people with all kinds of ideas and beliefs. By doing that we believe that we can strengthen the Danish democracy and dialogue and engage the “people” in creating the future Denmark.
Founder and year of establishment
Folkemødet was established in 2011. Inspired by Almedalsveckan, a member of the Danish Parliament Bertel Haarder and Mayor of the regional municipality of Bornholm, Winni Grosbøll, proposed the idea of creating a similar festival in Denmark. Winni Grosbøll took charge and soon after Folkemødet on Bornholm became a reality.
The festival was organised by a project secretariat within the regional municipality of Bornholm. In 2016 a decision was made to separate the festival from the regional municipality and the Foundation Folkemødet was established. The vision of Foundation Folkemødet is to create the best possible framework for Folkemødet, which is made possible through a great deal of support from the municipality, the ordinary citizen, the organizations and the politicians.
Location and length
The 4-day festival is located in Allinge, on the island of Bornholm and takes place in the middle of June in week 24. The idea of organising the festival on an island, away from the capital, was intentional. The aim was to create a camp vibe where the participants stay during the festival and enjoy the atmosphere fully. Allinge is located 90 km and a boat trip from Copenhagen and has approximately 1600 inhabitants.
Size – number of participants and events
The festival’s own estimate of participants was approximately 113.000 unique visitors in 2018. Since the festival is located on an island, the numbers were based on ferry and airport tickets plus the police estimate during the festival. The secretariat agrees on an estimate taking into account these numbers and their own experience. More than 3000 events were held during the festival in 2018. The festival has some unofficial events but the secretariat is currently working on making sure that all events are included in their programme. So far, intense work has meant that only 2-3% of events are unofficial.
People attending the festival
The people attending the festival represent different parts of Danish society. 53% in attendance are ordinary citizens. Most of them are elderly, well educated and with a specific interest in societal and political matters. Approximately 34% consists of what are called the professionals: the lobbyists and the organisations who are there to work. 2% consists of politicians, whose main purpose for participating is to provide political messages, networking and getting in direct dialogue with the citizens, while approximately 1% consists of journalists. The last 12% are volunteers, who are there to network and help organizations.
Involvement of the political parties
The parliamentary parties have their own tents during the festival. Furthermore, each party has the main stage at their disposal for half an hour during the festival. The foundation Folkemødet decides the time slots, which rotate every year. In 2017, all the political parties from the parliament participated and 146 out of a total of 179 members of parliament participated. The politicians are not allowed in the festival if they only spread marketing materials for their own party and do not organize any events. Additionally, they have to pay a fee, as does everyone else, to get a tent etc.
Anyone can apply to organize events. The secretariat allows the events if they are seen as relevant and create dialogue, which means that almost all events are accepted. The programme is curated in the sense that they try matchmaking between various event organisers who present similar programmes. The Head of Programme meets up with the event organisers in order to get them to join forces. Folkemødet focuses on the festival in June but is working on offering activities during the year. Culture blends into the event in a significant way, with theatre, music, art and sports all part of the programme.