Majority of Swedes back return to military service

More than 70 percent of Swedes want to reintroduce conscription for men and women alike, according to a fresh survey.

Majority of Swedes back return to military service
Could Sweden bring back conscription? Photo: Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix

Sweden's former centre-right government scrapped compulsory military service in 2010, but the current Social Democrat-Green coalition has said it is considering reintroducing the concept.

And a new survey carried out by major pollsters Ipsos on behalf of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper suggested on Monday that 72 percent of Swedes would throw their support behind conscription.

Only 16 percent of respondents said they believed it was a bad idea.

Conscription for all males was introduced in Sweden in 1901, but in practice it had been winding down for years before it was formally ditched, with only those expressing a wish to serve picked.

During the height of the Cold War nearly 85 percent of Swedish men carried out military service, with some 50,000 drafted out of an age group counting 60,000 men.

But according to DN the Swedish Armed Forces are currently short of around 7,500 soldiers, sailors and officers – around half of the total organization – despite running large recruitment campaigns with television ads and billboards in the past few years.

“It could be that many see conscription as a possible solution to the defence's staffing problems that are constantly reported in media,” Ipsos head of public opinion David Ahlin told the independent centre-right liberal Swedish daily.

Meanwhile, 87 percent of 1,231 respondents said military service should be compulsory for both men and women in Sweden, which has an international reputation for gender equality.

“It seems a given today that both men and women should serve. It's rare that there's such a consensus when we ask questions,” said Ahlin.