West News Wire: Both Sweden and Finland have been forced to reconsider long-held ideas that military neutrality is the best way to ensure national security, with both countries poised to make a decision in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson stated on Friday that if Sweden’s parliament agrees to pursue a NATO membership application, the government will not hold a referendum.

A referendum, according to Andersson, is a “poor idea.”

She told reporters, “I don’t believe it is a subject that is suited for a referendum.”

“There is a lot of information about national security that is confidential, so there are important issues in such a referendum that cannot be discussed and important facts that cannot be put on the table.”

Sweden’s parliament is reviewing security policy with a report expected in mid-May. Separately, Andersson’s own party, the Social Democrats, are looking at whether to drop their objections to NATO membership.

With a majority in parliament backing membership, the ruling Social Democrats are seen as the biggest hurdle to Sweden applying to join the 30-nation alliance.

The leader of the Moderates, the biggest opposition party, has also rejected calls for a referendum on the issue.

“Voters are not naive about Russia,” Ulf Kristersson told daily Aftonbladet earlier this week in a debate with Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar. “It’s very clear that Swedish voters have understood what happened on 24 February and have drawn their conclusions.”

Dadgostar, whose party opposes NATO membership, told Aftonbladet that Swedes should get a say in the decision.

“This has to go back to the voters, there has to be very strong democratic support in this question,” she said.

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Sweden holds a general election in September.

An opinion poll by Demoskop in daily Aftonbladet published on April 20 showed 57% of Swedes in favour of joining NATO, up from 51% in March.


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