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Majority of Swedes against weapons exports

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Majority of Swedes against weapons exports
09:07 CEST+02:00
Sweden has become a major world supplier of arms but the majority of Swedes are against having weapons exports at all, a new study has revealed.

Just over half of Swedes say no to weapon exports, a survey from pollster Ipsos revealed on Thursday.

When the same question was posed by polling company Sifo in 2012, 39 percent said they were against weapons exports and 42 percent were for them.

Only 33 percent of the 1,157 randomly selected respondents in the survey were positive towards arms exports.

Over the last few years Sweden has climbed the ranks of weapons exporters, becoming the world's third-largest arms exporter per capita.

The issue may be problematic for cooperation between the Green Party (Miljöpartiet, MP) and the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna, S), should the opposition win the elections in September. The Green Party's official stance is on par with that of the public majority, wanting to do away with weapons exports entirely. 

The Social Democrats disagreed.

"We do want to have hard regulations, but we are also completely convinced that we are also going to need war material exports in the future," Urban Ahlin, the party's foreign policy spokesman, told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Despite the Swedish public's scepticism, weapon exports from the country increased by 22 percent last year, to a worth of 11.9 billion kronor ($1.77 billion). Sweden's number one buyer was Thailand.

The results may point at shifts in political winds towards supporting the Green Party (Miljöpartiet, MP), which wants to stop all Swedish weapon exports, experts said.

Ulf Bjereld, a Social Democrat and professor of political science at Gothenburg University, expressed doubt that arms exports would be a determining factor in the upcoming elections - at least for the two opposition parties. But he said it may be a stumbling stone for the Alliance.

"On the one hand, they want to play up the differences between S and MP as much as possible to show the disunion between them, and that they are not ready to govern," Bjereld told the paper.

He added; "But on the other side, when they themselves do not agree with the majority opinion, it can be risky to bring up the question of weapon exports."

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