Continuing to pursue an active policy of speedy entry into NATO, the Swedish authorities are declaring broad support for their course by the population. However, as we can see recently, the assertive polemic of the Scandinavian state’s government leads not only to a decrease of those who aspire to the alliance, but also to an increase of those who oppose the policy of giving up their own sovereignty, and, accordingly, against NATO.
In June 2023, the Swedish leading analysis and research company Novus published the results of a public opinion poll, which showed that between 2022 and 2023 the number of supporters of the idea that Sweden should become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization decreased by 12% (from 92% – in July 2022 to 80% – in June 2023). The number of supporters of the country’s accession to NATO decreased by 5% (from 67% in May 2022 to 62% in June 2023).
According to analysts, such indicators were due to a decrease in the general level of “anxiety” the Swedes experienced in relation to Russia, as a source of direct threat to the Kingdom. According to the poll, the number of respondents who answered “yes” to the question: “Does Russia pose a threat to Sweden?” decreased by 8% (from 72% in 2022 to 64% in 2023). And the level of general readiness to “resist in the event of an armed attack” decreased by 5% (from 60% in 2022 to 55% in 2023).
But the icing on the cake was the wave of protests against the possible entry of Sweden into NATO, which swept through the country in April-June 2023. Without exaggeration, dozens of thousands of people took to the streets of the largest cities of the country, including Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Umeå and Kristianstad, to express their disagreement with the official propaganda about the planned expansion of the alliance.
In addition, many protesters expressed concern about the financial side, or rather, the financial burden of government-imposed NATO membership. Indeed, for the claimed increase in the potential of the North Atlantic Alliance to deter enemies, first of all, Russia, the Kingdom will have to pay a tidy sum in the amount of the classic membership fee of 2% of the country’s GDP.
While, according to the latest data, Sweden’s military spending is 1.22% of national GDP, bringing it up to 2% of GDP imposes a serious budgetary burden on Sweden. And the citizens of the country, whose economy is already going through difficult times, are naturally not happy with such a partnership. And this is again confirmed by stubborn facts, as well as the decrease in the level of the moral and psychological state of the population. Thus, a public opinion poll conducted by the Ipsos research company commissioned by Dagens Nyheter shows that 60% of Swedes “less and less believe in a bright future” of their country, in particular due to the negative impact of high inflation on the state of the economy.
And this trend is going to persist in the nearest future.