The Sweden Democrats have not had a clear line on the matter until now, but today the party says that Sweden has nothing to gain from renewing the deal, which was agreed on under the previous centre-right coalition government.
“I don’t think we should have any military cooperation with Saudi Arabia at all in the way that it is outlined in this agreement,” Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ foreign policy spokeswoman, told Swedish Radio News.
Today’s statement from the Sweden Democrats means that all parliamentary parties apart from the Social Democrats and the Moderates have clearly stated their opinion on the matter.
The Greens, the Left Party, the Centre Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats all want the arms deal to be scrapped and they do not want it to be renegotiated.
The previous government extended the Saudi arms deal in 2010 and the Moderate Party then pushed for it. Now, when the Moderates are in opposition, they do not want to give a statement on the issue, saying this is a government matter and not a parliamentary one.
While the Social Democrats have refused to state their position, criticism is mounting within the party ranks. In an opinion piece published by newspaper Dagens Nyheter, three Social Democrat MPs demanded that the government terminate the arms deal. They argued that exporting weapons to a cruel rogue state is indefensible.
In addition, the Social Democrats youth wing, SSU, as well as the Social Democrat student association and the Religious Social Democrats of Sweden (Tro och Solidaritet) have demanded that the deal be scrapped.
According to Swedish Radio News, the party’s executive committee will soon raise the matter, though Prime Minister Stefan Löfven did not want to confirm that information. He told news agency TT on Friday: “It’s a good thing if there are discussions. There should be debate, so that’s no problem.”