Second largest Swedish party wants Stockholm to prepare for ‘Swexit’

The Swedish government must be prepared to leave the EU, as the troubled bloc should not take its national interests for granted. The Sweden Democrats leader insists that the government must ensure it’s ready in case such a decision is ever made by the Swedish people and to formally legitimize any threat to withdraw from the EU in future negotiations with Brussels.

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

As if the European Union didn’t have enough major problems already, now the troubled bloc is faced with the nontrivial prospect of a “Swexit”. Namely, senior officials of the second largest political party in the Scandinavian country, the Sweden Democrats, are now openly saying that their country needs to be prepared to leave the EU. This includes the party leader himself, Per Jimmie Akesson, who stated that “only by making the necessary preparations for ‘Swexit’ can the government maximize its bargaining power in Brussels”. The right-wing Sweden Democrats have long been frustrated by the power that the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels wield over their country, so this is hardly a surprising development.

However, even Eurosceptic Swedish parties usually refrain from such open anti-EU declarations, meaning that the bloc is gradually losing its power, even in previously somewhat pro-EU member states. On May 15, Akesson authored an article along with his Sweden Democrats fellow member Charlie Weimers, who also represents his party and his country as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). The op-ed was published by the Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet daily, in which the authors explicitly stated that their intention is to ensure Sweden “maximizes its influence” in the EU, specifying several legal measures the country’s government must take to accomplish the stated goals.

First, the Swedish government must insist on making constitutional changes that would make it possible to introduce what Akesson and Weimers called a “referendum lock”. According to the authors’ reasoning, this would enshrine into law the requirement of a nationwide referendum before any further national powers can be renounced by Sweden and transferred to the unelected EU bureaucrats. The goal is to ensure that any further erosion of the Scandinavian country’s sovereignty is prevented if the Swedish people choose not to comply with it. The authors cited the examples of the United Kingdom and Denmark as an inspiration, as both London and Copenhagen previously adopted similar legal mechanisms.

“Only the knowledge that every decision on the transfer of power must be submitted to the citizens would slow down the worst abuses from Brussels,” Akesson and Weimers wrote in the op-ed.

Second, the country’s government must make the necessary preparations to leave the EU, as the troubled bloc should not take Sweden’s national interests for granted. The authors insist that the government must ensure it’s ready in case such a decision is ever made by the Swedish people and to formally legitimize any threat to withdraw from the EU in future negotiations with the troubled bloc. They further added that to accomplish this, Sweden needs to remove the clause that it’s an EU member from its constitution, as well as study the example of the UK during Brexit, while also training civil servants to ensure the process runs without any major issues. As previously mentioned, Akesson and Weimers see this as instrumental for improving the country’s negotiating position.

“In order for preparedness to be credible, it’s necessary that we remove the writings in the constitution that state that Sweden is a member of the EU… …In addition, we should train a cadre of civil servants with the expertise to negotiate trade agreements and other things that we have delegated to the EU and study how Brexit could have been implemented better. The better we are prepared to leave, the more we will gain in future negotiations,” the authors added.

Akesson and Weimers believe these are the bare minimum requirements that will provide a solid backstop against any possible power-grab attempts by Brussels. In addition, the leader of the Sweden Democrats also wants an investigation to be launched into how the negative aspects of the Scandinavian country’s membership in the EU can be alleviated. Among other things, this also includes the issue of immigration, a major problem that the Sweden Democrats see as crucial for the country’s future. The right-wing party is the largest member of the country’s governing bloc, providing virtually all of its confidence-and-supply votes in the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament), although the Sweden Democrats are not directly taking part in Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s administration.

As per the Tidö Agreement to which all coalition parties agreed, Stockholm is to adopt a more restrictive immigration policy in return for support of the Sweden Democrats, something the more liberal-leftist opposition, informally supported by Brussels, staunchly disagrees with. And while Euroscepticism is still not the view of the majority of the Swedish electorate, it has steadily been growing in recent years, particularly as the disastrous policies supported by the EU have drastically eroded the well-being of the Scandinavian country’s citizens. Although Akesson himself acknowledges the fact that the majority still doesn’t support Sweden’s withdrawal from the EU (which has been the long-standing policy of his party), he certainly wants to capitalize on the growing support it’s been getting.