Sweden’s Social Democratic Party, Socialdemokraterna, announced on Sunday that it would support a Swedish application for NATO membership, providing a parliamentary majority for the move. The announcement was made following a meeting of the party board earlier that day. This afternoon Sweden has officially announced that they will seek membership of NATO.
In a statement, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said that while military neutrality had served Sweden well, the conclusion reached was that it would not serve Sweden as well in the future. Andersson said that the decision to break from 200 years of neutrality had not been made lightly, with careful considerations made in the face of a “new and dangerous” reality. On Monday, Andersson confirmed Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. “There is a broad majority in Sweden’s parliament for Sweden to join NATO,” Andersson said, continuing, “this is the best thing for Sweden’s security. We will inform NATO that we want to become a member of the alliance.”
Andersson, as leader of Socialdemokraterna, said that turning point for Sweden’s Social Democrats was Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, although she noted that events had been trending downwards for some time. Other negative events cited include the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, and demands made by Russia to permanently exclude Sweden and Finland among others from NATO membership. In response Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “We are not convinced that Finland and Sweden joining NATO will somehow strengthen or improve the security on our continent.”
Defense Minister Peter Hutqvist said at a press conference following the announcement that anything other than a NATO membership application was “inconceivable”. While he had expressed opposition to Swedish NATO membership as recently as last November, he told SVT that his stance had changed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, citing the “incredible cruelty” of Russian forces.
A press release by the Social Democrats states that the NATO membership bid will include “reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory”.
With the Social Democrats now backing Swedish NATO membership, the minority government the party leads now has a majority of lawmakers supporting the move, with the only lawmakers still opposed to NATO membership being those of the Left Party and the Green Party. Stockholm is now expected to formally submit its membership application, possibly in step with the Finnish application should that be ratified by Finnish lawmakers later this week.