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Left Party, Sweden Democrats object to Nato deal

Published måndag 23 maj 2016 kl 09.55
A host nation support agreement with Nato would allow assistance from alliance troops in the Nordic countries in emergency situations. Photo: Visar Kryeziu/AP Photo

The Left Party and the Sweden Democrat Party plan to vote against ratifying a host nation support agreement with Nato, meaning the deal could be postponed for a year.

This weekend, the Left Party announced their intention to request a postponement of the parliamentary decision on a host nation support agreement, a pact that would allow assistance from alliance troops in the Nordic countries in emergency situations. Sweden's previous centre-right government signed the agreement in September 2014 and the parliament was due to vote to pass the deal this Wednesday.

On Sunday, the Sweden Democrats stated that they would support the Left Party’s stance, an unusual situation since the two parties are at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

"I have no particular comment on the matter,” Stig Henriksson, the Left Party's security policy spokesman, told news agency TT. “We propose what we feel are wise policy moves and then all parties and MPs can take a stand and if they feel a proposal is good they can support it."

A majority of Swedish MPs are in favour of the host nation support agreement with Nato, but since the Left and the Sweden Democrats are demanding a stay of proceedings, the parliamentary vote could be postponed for a year. A stay of proceedings may be enforced if a sixth of all MPs support it, and that is now the case since the Sweden Democrats' announcement on Sunday.

Hans Wallmark, an MP and the conservative Moderate Party's defense policy spokesman, called the Sweden Democrats' and Left Party's unity around the host nation agreement "remarkable".

The Left Party has defended its position by pointing to the legal amendments that would come into force should the host nation support agreement with Nato go through. Those amendments would involve infringements of constitutional liberties and rights, the Left Party says.

The Sweden Democrats’ objection is based on the party’s desire to protect Sweden's neutrality.

"The host nation agreement risks damaging the international community's faith in our military non-alignment stance," said Mikael Jansson, a Sweden Democrat MP and a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence.

The Left Party's Stig Henriksson told TT that there is also widespread support for a stay of proceedings within the Green Party and the Social Democrat Party, who make up Sweden's coalition government. However, many would view a postponement as a major defeat for the government and the Social Democrat minister of defence, Peter Hultkvist.

The aim of the so-called Host Nation Support Memorandum Of Understanding is to facilitate the presence of Nato troops during any type of mission where Sweden functions as a host nation, based on a Swedish invitation, for example in the case of military exercises.

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