Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats could speed up party’s NATO decision

STOCKHOLM: The leaders of Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will hold a further meeting on May 15 where they could decide whether the party will change policy and support an application to join NATO, the secretary of the party, Tobias Baudin.

With a majority in parliament backing joining the alliance, the Social Democrats, the largest party in every election for the last 100 years, are seen as the main obstacle to an application.

“The party leadership could choose to make a decision at that time,” Baudin told the TT news agency.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation,” has forced a rethink of security policy in Sweden and Finland, countries that stayed out of NATO during the Cold War.

Both countries are expected to make a decision on whether to apply to the 30-nation alliance in the coming weeks.

Sweden’s parliamentary parties are conducting a joint review of security policy which is expected to be reported on May 13.

The Social Democrats are conducting a separate policy review.

Previously, the party had said it would announce a decision no later than May 24, when the leadership is due to hold a meeting.

However, Sweden is coordinating with Finland, its closest neighbor and defense partner, on the issue of NATO membership and Helsinki is seen moving faster than Stockholm.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has said the two countries will make separate decisions, but whatever Finland decides will have a big impact on Sweden.

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