Sweden's opposition leader slams prime minister over 'uniquely divisive' comments

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Sweden's opposition leader slams prime minister over 'uniquely divisive' comments
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson addressed the Folk och Försvar conference in Sälen. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson hit out at Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson after he in a speech appeared to link Swedish citizenship to the country's military defence.


“Ukraine has taught us that a country’s most important resource in the war is the people’s common will to defend themselves,” Kristersson, leader of the conservative Moderate Party, told the Folk och Försvar defence conference on Monday, held annually at the Sälen ski resort.

“We, too, must begin to discuss the expectations that come with Swedish citizenship. Ultimately, it is about defending Sweden, our values and our way of life – with weapons in hand and our lives on the line. Citizenship is not a travel document,” he added.

Asked by the Svenska Dagbladet daily at a press conference after the speech whether he could see a difference between people who are born as Swedish citizens and those who become citizens later in life in terms of their willingness to defend Sweden, Kristersson said:

“My absolute point is that for a lot of people, the Swedish passport has become a way to be able to move around easily, to be able to get consular protection from Sweden. But I’m not sure that everyone has thought through what it means to also be prepared to sacrifice one’s life for the country of which you’re a citizen.”


Andersson accused Kristersson of implying that new Swedish citizens would be less willing than others to defend the country.

“His message was uniquely divisive,” Swedish news agency TT quoted her as saying.

“What we need in Sweden now is cohesion, trust, a high degree of awareness, but also of course a strong will to defend. That kind of divisive statement is taking the country in exactly the opposite direction.”


Civil Defence Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin told TT in a written statement that a former prime minister such as Andersson should refrain from “bad faith misinterpretations and political mud wrestling” in such a serious situation.

He also said Andersson was playing up a “false contradiction”.

“Ulf Kristersson hasn’t made the slightest hint that new citizens would have a lower willingness to defend themselves,” said Bohlin.

Also at the Folk och Försvar conference, Bohlin himself sparked a stir when he told the audience that “there could be war in Sweden”, meaning that the country’s two centuries of peace do not protect it from war, sentiments echoed by Supreme Commander Micael Bydén.



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Imadur Rahman 2024/01/11 12:26
I agree with Magdalena here. I have adopted Sweden as my home and I am proud of being a Swedish citizen. Definitely, I will give my most to defend Sweden, its a no brainer. However, the Prime Ministers statement puts me in a bad light unfortunately. The leadership should unite people, not divide them and the leadership should be more careful on what they say. Constantly vilifying part of the population is not a wise move.
Souad Al Hebshi 2024/01/10 18:17
When a professor says to the student " I gave you the excellent book but you cannot make it to the exam”, definitely the student will be discouraged and never register for the exam because he believe that his teacher thinks he will not make it. Thousands of new citizens or citizens born outside Sweden already discouraged to sacrifice their lives for Sweden with such speech. Unfortunately!

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