In Sweden and Finland, the debate on NATO membership is accelerating


A few weeks ago, the leader of the Swedish extreme right, Jimmie Akesson, did not want to hear about joining NATO. And then he did an about-face on Saturday, April 9. In a newspaper interview Svenska Dagbladet, the boss of the Democrats of Sweden affirms that he is ready to support a Swedish candidacy, if Finland decides to join the Atlantic Alliance. To explain his 180 degree turn, he mentions the fact that Helsinki can apply for membership ” shortly “.

This reversal was discussed on Monday, April 11, by the party leadership, during a meeting convened urgently. At the exit, Aron Emilsson, responsible for foreign policy, specified that the Democrats of Sweden were “for NATO membership under conditions”. He named two: the fact that Finland adheres and that the security situation requires it. For the party’s reservations with regard to the Atlantic Alliance have not disappeared. They relate in particular to the presence of Turkey among the members of NATO and to the sending of young Swedes to fight in foreign countries.

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According to Mr. Emilsson, the Democrats of Sweden are in contact with the True Finns. In Helsinki, the far-right formation has also changed its position. On March 30, an internal vote, carried out within the parliamentary group, showed that twenty-nine of its deputies were now in favor of membership and three against (four abstained and two were absent). A few days earlier, the current president of the party, Riikka Purra, and her predecessor, Jussi Halla-aho, had both expressed their support for joining NATO.

Decision “before summer” in Stockholm

However, it is not only in the ranks of the extreme right that the lines are moving. On Monday, the Swedish Social Democratic Party announced that it would launch a major “dialogue on security policy”, with its militants, to see if it was necessary to modify the position adopted at the congress, in November 2021, against membership. Party secretary Tobias Baudin assured that a decision would be made ” before summer “, because then the legislative elections are looming, scheduled for September 9, and the Social Democrats want at all costs to prevent the debate on NATO from becoming a parasite on the ballot.

For the right and the extreme right, the timetable is not ambitious enough. In recent days, the Social Democratic government, led by Magdalena Andersson, has also found itself under fire from critics, accused by the opposition of lacking clarity, as well as by certain editorialists and security experts. On March 8, Andersson had declared that an accession of Sweden, “as it stands, would further destabilize the situation”. Then, on March 30, on the “30 minuter” program on the SVT channel, she said that she “in no way excluded NATO membership”.

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