Swedish PM rejects referendum on possible NATO membership 2022-04-28 08:56:00


Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks during a press conference with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Stockholm, Sweden, April 13, 2022. Paul Wennerholm / TT News Agency / via REUTERS

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Friday the Swedish government has no plans to hold a referendum if its parliament decides to go ahead with its NATO membership bid.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced Sweden and Finland to reconsider their deeply held beliefs that military neutrality is the best way to ensure national security, and both countries are expected to make a decision in the next few weeks. Read more

Anderson said the referendum was a “bad idea”.

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“I don’t think it is an appropriate issue for the referendum,” she told reporters.

“There is a lot of classified national security information, so there are important issues in such a referendum that cannot be discussed and important facts that cannot be brought to the table.”

The Swedish parliament is reviewing security policy with a report expected in mid-May. Separately, Anderson’s SPD is considering whether to reject his objections to NATO membership. Read more

With a majority in parliament supporting membership, the ruling Social Democratic Party is seen as the biggest obstacle to Sweden applying to join the 30-nation coalition.

The leader of the moderates, the largest opposition party, also rejected calls for a referendum on the issue.

“Voters … are not naive about Russia,” Ulf Christerson told Aftonbladet newspaper earlier this week in a debate with Left Party leader Noshi Dadgostar. “It is very clear that Swedish voters understood what happened on February 24 and came to their conclusions.”

Dadgostar, whose party opposes joining NATO, told Muftoonbladet that the Swedes should have a say in the decision.

“This … has to go back to the electorate, there has to be very strong Democratic support in that question,” she said.

Sweden holds general elections in September.

An opinion poll conducted by Demskop in the daily Aftonbladet and published on April 20 showed that 57% of Swedes were in favor of joining NATO, up from 51% in March.

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(Reporting by Johann Ahlander) Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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