As I am writing this it’s under a week left to the Swedish Election of 2018 and it’s going to be lots of changes in the parliament if all predictions are aligning with reality. With this article I would like to zoom in on a topic that isn’t stealing any headlines in Swedish media during this election cycle, that is very important for me: What do the political parties of Sweden think about defense and the alliance neutrality of the country?
The Swedish role on the international stage when it comes to conflict and diplomacy has been overshadowed by the more popular topics this election cycle about immigration, environment and how to tackle a shrinking police force, that has generated a lot more buzz. But, to me its an important subject to put under the microscope to analyze.
The lines set by Swedens political parties when it comes to the national defense of Sweden and the country’s role in wars is pretty blurry, so blurry its hard to tell them apart most of the time. This is a by-product when it comes to the parties wanting to keep the structure intact and just add or subtract number on the defense budget, with variants on a sliding scale that doesn’t go too far in either direction. All parties are for a mandatory conscription, for example. Something I’m against: you shouldn’t force people to take part in conflicts, that is simply wrong and immoral.
“Yeah, but Alex, Sweden is neutral and conscription is about defending the country!”
No, it really isn’t – Sweden is involved in global armed conflicts, right now on 2 different continents, and there is no guarantee that our forces will stay on our borders. Not even the Swedish weapon manufacturers can keep their guns out of wars. Swedens involvement is going to get even worse if the one specific piece of the defense-policy pie where it is the easiest to see a distinct split between the parties gets parliament majority: The question of membership in NATO.
Any party that wants membership in NATO gets a lot of minus points from me, I am not a fan at all. Luckily, the opposition to joining the alliance is fairly strong, so far. Once the 2018 election is settled, that particular topic will for sure get more airtime and we will see how it shakes out in the future. I am hopeful.
Based on their defense policies alone, none of the current mainstream parties would get my vote. There is, of course, degrees of agreement to every party, but if they are not explicitly against warfare I am not interested in supporting them whatsoever. Down below you can see my summary on the different stances of the parties, made by me.
Strengthening of the Swedish national defense and the mandatory conscription.
Wants to keep Sweden neutral and free from military alliances, but also want to deepen and support international co-operative military efforts. I just take this as the political version of wanting to eat the cake and keep it at the same time.
The Social Democrats want the veteran day to be a national holiday. Active promotion of demilitarizing other countries, nuclear weapon power specifically – Yet promotes
the nations own defenses to be stronger.
Overall a pretty weird political program when it comes to War and Peace.
Grade: “We don’t want you to do that but for us its OK“.
Link to Program.
Promotes larger defense budget and NATO-membership. Creation of a national security council to defend against exterior threats such as computer crime and national emergency situations. Increased budget for the Swedish National Guard.
The “Money and NATO will fix it” party that is very straightforward and don’t bog down their program with virtue signaling like their Social Democratic
Grade: “How the pre-baking setting of new Warhawks look like”
Link to Defence Program.
The Left Party.
Anti-NATO and full support of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The Left Party is promoting a downsizing of all military resources around the globe, except for Swedens own defense force – Which should be larger according to their policies. Pro-conscription with the addition of putting a “Feminism” tag on the party’s security politics, which means they want women to participate more in armed conflict via national conscription program.
Grade: “More armed proletarians, please”
Link to General guidelines for Left Party defense politics.
The Green Party.
Wants to abolish Sweden renting sovereign space for training purposes to NATO and other international military forces. Wants Sweden to be an active
force when it comes to lessening the number of nuclear arms around the globe and stricter weapon export. Favors a military built on voluntary instead of
conscription. A clear ‘No’ in the case of a possible Swedish membership in NATO.
It’s hard to pin down what the party’s stance on the national defense is since they use very vague language in the official program, with sentences like
“The home-field readiness needs to be on par with any incoming threats that the security politics identifies”. Which is one heck-of-a word salad that says nothing.
Grade: “Fairtrade weapons eases our conscience like a new Tesla car”
The Green Party Program on War and Conflict.
Wants mandatory conscription and a doubling of recruits, but want to promote voluntary service first and foremost. Meaning “want to sit on two chairs at once”. Increase of military spendings for the goal of 2% of GDP and wants Sweden to be part of NATO, just like the rest of the right-wing alliance. Wants the active land- and sea forces to increase in size, especially on the Swedish island of Gotland. More and bigger guns for the coastal guard and national guard.
The Liberals draws a clear line in the sand between (neocon) liberals and libertarians and stay on the bad side of that line.
Grade: “Can you let us pretend we are not concrete conservatives on this peace thing?”
Link to the Liberals Defence Politics.
The party wants to implement a special police force that is more militarised than regular police, used for crisis situations during peace and wartime.
Pro NATO-membership as defense versus possible Russian aggression and an increase in the defense budget, in line with the other right-wing parties. The Christ Democrats also promote better care for Swedish veterans.
The party is against membership in NATO and also negative to a possible European Union military project. The Sweden Democrats also want a slightly higher defense budget spending than the other parties on the right, setting it at 2.5% of GDP (in contrast to the current estimate of 1.2% of GDP). They are seeking a mandate for the military to support the police during national crises, which translates to that the military could be used on civilians in Sweden – Which is as absurd as it sounds.
Grade: “They think we are only a police state party? Hold my gluten-free beer“.
Link to the Sweden Democrats defense politics.
The Center Party
Think staying neutral is too centrist? The Center Party agrees. Very NATO-friendly and they pretty support the European Union’s plan to start a euro-zone
military force, but with more words. Oh, the Nordic countries should cooperate more when it comes to army projects.
Grade: “Alliance Neutral? Never heard of her.”
Link to Defence politics of the Center Party.