If you want to understand how important, how historic these days are for Sweden right now, you should know King Charles XIV John.

His real name was Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, and after a military career under Napoleon, he was only 1810 by the childless King Charles XIII.

adopted and then crowned king of Sweden and Norway in 1818.

Matthias Wysuwa

Political correspondent for northern Germany and Scandinavia based in Hamburg.

  • Follow I follow

Sweden had long since lost its status as a great power and had just suffered yet another defeat - and ceded what had previously been Sweden's Finland to Russia.

But Charles XIV John was to show the battered country a new future, not only because he was the first of the Bernadotte dynasty, from which the Swedish kings still come today.

With him, in recognition of Sweden's own position, size and proximity to Russia, the foreign policy line of neutrality also prevailed, and thus began a very long period without war on our own soil.

And now, a good 200 years later, it is Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson who is also doing away with the last remnant of this imperative of neutrality, the military non-alignment.

She spoke to the press in Stockholm on Monday and said the government had now formally decided that Sweden would apply for NATO membership.

The government created facts

Like the reigning Swedish king, Carl XVI.

Gustaf, this NATO decision exactly finds, is open.

He was informed of the situation by the government on Monday morning.

But the power of the monarch has shrunk more and more, and he is expected to exercise restraint when it comes to day-to-day political decisions.

On the other hand, in the past few days, leading articles in the newspapers have explained how important this step towards NATO is for Sweden and what it means for the self-image, and the social-democratic government created facts.

Andersson finally committed her Social Democrats to NATO membership on Sunday.

On Monday she can be sure of broad support in the debate on the new security policy in the Reichstag.

In the end, the cabinet makes the decision and the decision is made.

For the Social Democrats in particular, the pace of the change of course was enormous.

While in Finland, soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the polls showed majorities in favor of joining NATO, and the political debate was geared accordingly, the change in mood in Sweden was not immediately so rigorous.

The Finns are also somewhat more pragmatic when it comes to security policy issues, 1,300 kilometers of common borders with Russia should contribute to this.

Andersson, on the other hand, was very skeptical about membership at the beginning of March, noting that an application in this situation could destabilize security in the region and increase tensions.

Your defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, was famous for his resounding no to NATO membership.

He had guaranteed his party that a social democratic government would never join NATO.

Then, on Sunday night, he stood alongside Andersson, who is also party leader, as she announced her Social Democrats were in favor of joining.

Non-alignment has served her country well, she said, but this is questionable for the future.

One is confronted with a fundamentally changed security environment in Europe.

The basic question is "how best to protect Sweden" and the Kremlin has shown that it is ready to use violence to achieve its political goals.


For many decades, the Social Democrats have shaped the country, regardless of whether they are in government or not.

In addition to the belief in the great welfare state, neutrality played a major role in the party's self-image, as it was easily reconciled with the claim to be at least a major humanitarian power: as an international voice for peace and nuclear disarmament, and for the third party World.

Hardly anyone was as well heard around the world as Olof Palme, one of Sweden's most important social democrats.

A distance to America and NATO could not be overlooked.