Tobias Baudin, the Social Democrats’ party secretary, told the TT newswire that all party members, MPs and politicians in local and regional government would be asked to take part in the debate, which would take place “with haste”, with the process completed “by the summer”.
“This is partly intended for elected officials, partly for members who are interested in security issues, so that that we can get a broad understanding on what has happened in our region and get up to date on the pros and cons of our current position on security politics,” he said.
In a press release announcing the process, the party said the aim was to have a “proper discussion” over the party’s position on Sweden’s security, allowing party members to “increase their knowledge” on the issues.
Baudin said the dialogue would be “a broader discussion than the question of a yes or no to NATO membership”.
Although the party’s ruling committee will take the final decision on whether to change the party’s policy on Nato membership, elected officials will be asked to hold their own meetings, the results of which will then feed into the committee’s final decision.
“If during the process a need emerges to change course in security policy, it will be up to the party’s board… to make such a decision,” the party said in the press release.
The Social Democrats’ announcement came as the populist Sweden Democrats called an emergency meeting of its governing committee. The committee is likely to empower the party’s leader Jimmie Åkesson to support a Nato application if Finland decides to join in the coming weeks.
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The Social Democrats, led by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, has historically opposed Nato membership but the more than six-week conflict has reignited debate in the Scandinavian kingdom.
A policy reversal for the party, which ruled for an uninterrupted 40 years between the 1930s and 1970s, would be historic and could pave the way for Sweden to apply to join Nato. Neighbouring Finland, which shares a border with Russia, is gearing up for a similar policy decision by early summer.
At the Social Democrats’ last party congress in November, members voted to keep the party’s historical position on Nato.
“Military non-alignment is the foundation of Sweden’s security politics,” the congress resolved. “It gives us the freedom to act in whatever way best leads to reduced tension and peace, and which best secures our independence in foreign policy. That is why Sweden should not join Nato.”
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, has shifted both her position and her rhetoric in the month and a half since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Sweden is officially non-aligned militarily, although it is a Nato partner and abandoned its position of strict neutrality after the end of the Cold War.
Having initially stressed that non-alignment had “served Sweden’s interests well,” and that a Nato application would “further destabilise” the security situation in Northern Europe, Andersson conceded that she was ready to discuss the policy and in late March said she “did not rule out” a bid to join Nato.
Finland will on Wednesday publish the results of a new assessment of the country’s security options, which some predict will lead Sanna Marin, the country’s Social Democrat prime minister, to announce a decision to back a Nato application.