Sweden’s position on nuclear disarmament has over the last few years been muddled and inconsistent. Foreign interference, a flawed government “investigation,” as well as the ongoing national debate over Nato membership have called into question the real reasons why Sweden decided not to join the TPNW in 2019. However, more clarity seems to be on the horizon as the ruling government party Socialdemokraterna for the first time clearly decided that the goal is for Sweden to join the TPNW at their party congress last week.
The subject of nuclear weapons and the TPNW was described by media as one of the most contentious questions to be addressed the congress, with a total of 48 motions submitted in favour of the treaty. Key Social Democratic-affiliated organisations, including the party’s youth wing, S-Women and others, alongside ICAN partner organisations, worked hard to try to reverse the initial draft of the new party programme presented by the skeptical party leadership (especially the ministers of defence and foreign affairs) and achieved some important results.
The newly adopted Party Program says:
“As an observer of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Sweden will contribute to the development and clarification of the Treaty. The goal is that Sweden will join. In the work for nuclear disarmament, Sweden must play a leading role. We Social Democrats want a global ban on nuclear weapons. The crucial work for a nuclear-weapon-free world is to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to increase the nuclear powers' willingness to disarm."
While the motions which demanded the party commit to “signing and ratifying the treaty now” were not ultimately voted upon in favour of the compromise language, the crucial part is the clarification about the unconditional goal of joining the TPNW. Ahead of the congress, ICAN Partner and key Social Democrat Party stakeholder the Olof Palme International Center published a new opinion poll that shows that 87.8 % of the Social Democrats’ voters wanted Sweden to sign the TPNW. It also showed an overwhelming majority in favour of a Swedish signature among all different voters, which bodes well for activism in Sweden, especially ahead of next year’s elections.
header photo: SocialDemokraterna, 2019 | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0