With the election of Donald Trump, the admittedly quite hypocritical Swedish security policies has come under more scrutiny than ever. While not a member of NATO, Sweden has for the last decade worked closely with the alliance in the hopes that it would get help if we needed it. This while at the same time resolutely refusing to join the military alliance.
The left-wing consensus has, since the first world war, been that Sweden should be outside military alliances in peace-time, and be neutral in times of war. It is a position that has not been seriously threatened for decades, particularly since the days of the murdered Prime Minister Olof Palme turned the ideal into bedrock conviction and political mythology.
As the social democratic Swedish Workers Party (or SAP as it’s shortened in Sweden) moved to the right when the Third Way entered the Swedish political lexicon, just like it did in Britain and Germany, this ideal didn’t change. It is difficult to imagine SAP thinking anything different, but many things that were unthinkable are very possible now.
Also, not even the two-term Conservative-Liberal government which preceded the current one, and which held power between 2006 and 2014, made any serious moves to challenge this neutrality. Although, there has always been people on the fringes of the Liberal Party who now and then raised the idea that we should join NATO.
The radical left, both in the Feminist Initiative and in the Left Party would never countenance joining NATO, or give up the desire to stay out of military alliances. To them NATO is an imperialist instrument run for the benefit of the USA. Both Feminist Initiative and the Left Party are, however, marginal parties in the Swedish political context. They are relevant only as cogs within the block politics of Sweden.
Block politics meaning that parties try to win as many votes as possible during an election for themselves, but they also belong to either of two blocks: the Conservative-Liberal or the Red-Green block.
Either of these blocks will form a coalition to form a government, and what policies are sought depends on the relative strength of the parties within the block. SAP is still by far the largest in the Red-Green block, and with the Left Party, breaking the alliance-free-ideal was unthinkable.
Until now when Donald Trump has been elected. The threat of US withdrawal from the security arrangements in Europe has had two effects. First a commitment to quite rapidly increase defence spending, and secondly the question of Swedish membership of NATO has moved from the fringes of Liberal politics into the circles of the Red-Green block. Whether the resistance to the idea can be overcome remains to be seen, but the question is taken far more seriously now.