Sweden's Social Democrats kick off 'marathon meeting' on Nato membership

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Sweden's Social Democrats kick off 'marathon meeting' on Nato membership
Social Democrat party secretary Tobias Baudin arrives at the "marathon meeting" on Nato on Friday. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Sweden's Social Democrats are holding a "marathon meeting" this Friday on whether to join the Nato security alliance. The party's parliamentary group is joining its main leadership committee to thrash out the contentious issue.


"The is the first big discussion in the party," a source told the Aftonbladet newspaper, which was the first to report on the meeting on Thursday.  

The meeting, which will run from 9am to 3pm, marks the official start of a process many commentators see as designed to build support within the party ahead of a shift in policy in favour of a Nato application.

READ ALSO: The likely timetable for how Sweden could join Nato


Ahead of the meeting, climate minister Annika Strandhäll, who chairs the party's women's organisation, Social Democratic Women in Sweden, said that the party needed to reexamine its long-held policy of non-alignment in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

"Social Democratic Women in Sweden has a long history of working for peace and disarmament," she told TT. "We have a decision of the Social Democrat's annual conference which states clearly that we in Sweden should be non-aligned and not apply to join Nato.

But when the security situation changes, as has happened with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, she said, it was the Social Democratic Women in Sweden's responsibility to once again debate the membership issue. 

Social Democratic Women in Sweden, known in Sweden as S-Kvinnor, is seen by party watchers as one of the likely pockets of resistance to Nato membership. 

READ ALSO: Why isn’t Sweden part of the Nato security alliance?

At the same time, the party has appointed some of its most heavyweight figures, including the former foreign minister, Margot Wallström, the current foreign minister, Ann Linde, and Sweden's defence minister, Peter Hultqvist, to take leading roles in the discussion within the party over joining Nato. 

The Social Democrats' Secretary-General, Tobias Baudin, told TT that leading ministers and former ministers would lead a series of digital meetings with party members on May 9th, May 10th, and May 12th. 

"We have now decided on a number of speakers, people who will hold discussions with each of our party districts," he told TT. 

Among those meeting party districts will be Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, Aid Minister Mathilda Ernkrans, and EU Minister Hans Dahlgren.

Margot Wallström, Sweden's former foreign minister, will also lead discussions. 

"They have been selected because they are central representatives of the party who have a strong legitimacy, respect and confidence within our party, but also because they have good knowledge on this issue," Baudin told the newswire.


He said that the discussions would lead off with a broad analysis of security and foreign policy issues, and would also cover both the advantages and disadvantages of Nato membership. 

"Most of all, they need to make sure that we have a good dialogue with the local boards of each of our party districts because these are the discussions that need to be there as a strong foundation if we need to take a decision later," he said. 



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