Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has for the first time seen a majority of Swedes in favor of joining NATO, according to a poll, and signs are the political landscape could to change too in a country long known for neutrality.
Sweden has not been in a war since 1814 and has built its foreign policy on “non-participation in military alliances.” It remained neutral throughout World War Two even as neighboring Nordic countries were invaded, and during the Cold War.
A poll on Friday by Demoskop and commissioned by Aftonbladet newspaper showed 51% of Swedes are now in favor of NATO membership, up from 42% in January. People against joining fell to 27% from 37%. It’s the first time such a poll has shown a majority in favor.
However, Sweden’s Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said joining NATO was not an easy decision, nor one that could be rushed based on recent events alone.
“To change the defense doctrine, that is a very huge decision, so you don’t do it overnight and you cannot do it because of opinion polls,” he told a news conference in Copenhagen where he met his Danish and British counterparts.
However, the Sweden Democrats, the third biggest party in parliament, said on Friday it was reviewing its stance, which could give a majority in parliament to those who wish to join.