STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Christian Democrats voted on Friday to push for Sweden to join NATO, meaning all four parties from the center-right opposition are now in favor of NATO membership while the present red-green coalition government is against.
Tensions between Sweden, which has not fought in a war for more than 200 years, and Russia have been rising as Moscow flexes its muscles in Eastern Europe and around the Baltic Sea, pushing the debate about NATO to the top of the political agenda.,
With a snap election possibly on the horizon after a deal between the center-right opposition and the minority center-left government over the budget broke down, the views of the center right could become more significant.
Sweden spent weeks last year hunting for a submarine many believed to be Russian in its waters while intercepting Russian fighters over the Baltic has become an frequent task for Swedish and NATO jets.
"Let's sign this insurance now," said Lars Adaktusson, Christian Democrat and member of the European Parliament.
A poll in October last year showed more Swedes were for joining the alliance than against for the first time. The most recent poll showed a further rise in support.
Sweden last month called in Russia's ambassador to explain comments by a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman who said any Swedish decision to join NATO would have unspecified consequences.
In 1994, Sweden joined the Partnership for peace program and has participated in NATO operations in from Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The alliance's website describes Sweden as one of its "most active partners".
(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Alison Williams)