Swedes still against joining Nato

A majority of Swedes remain opposed to joining Nato, preferring instead Sweden's policy of military non-alliance, an opinion poll released on Monday showed.

A total of 46 percent of Swedes are against membership of the Western alliance, partly because of scepticism towards US policies, while 22 percent are in favour. The remainder are undecided, according to the survey of 3,000 people conducted by the Gothenburg University SOM institute in October and November 2005.

The results are in line with previous SOM surveys on the subject.

The strong opposition to Nato is mostly the result of Sweden’s longstanding policy of military non-alliance, Gothenburg University political science professor Ulf Bjereld, who led the study, told AFP.

“Sweden is a little unique in the sense that we have had a long period of peace, some 200 years without a war. So many people associate that period of peace with the fact that we have not been part of a military alliance,” he said.

“But there is also a strong scepticism towards US foreign policy. Swedes don’t want to be closely affiliated with US foreign policy beccause that could make us a target,” he said, noting that that sentiment had increased under US President George W. Bush’s time in office.

Sweden is not a member of Nato but does participate in the alliance’s Partnership for Peace program.

Bjereld said he did not expect the question of Nato membership to be a focal issue in Sweden’s September 17 general elections.

The ruling Social Democrats, which have dominated Swedish politics for the better part of 70 years, are opposed to Nato membership while the centre-right four-party alliance is divided on the issue.