Support for NATO membership has become firmer in Britain, Spain and Poland since March

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 22, 2022, 8:59 AM GMT+0

There is also strong support in key European nations and the US for Sweden and Finland joining the alliance

YouGov polling in the immediate weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine showed a notable increase in support for NATO membership in Western Europe.

Now a new survey shows that in some nations support has strengthened further, while in others it has remained largely static.

In Spain and Britain, as well as Poland, while overall support has remained the same as it was in March, the nature of that support has become much firmer, with people now more likely to say that they “strongly” support NATO membership.

For instance, in Britain “strong support” for NATO membership has risen from 35% in early March to 48% by late June, even while overall support for membership has hovered between 68-71%.

Likewise, in Spain “strong” support has risen from 28% to 42%, during which time overall support has stood at 63-64%.

In Poland, 59% of people “strongly” support NATO membership, up from 51% in early March. Overall support has stood at 76-77% across the two surveys.

In the other countries surveyed – Germany, France, Italy and the USA – there has been little to no change since the most recent survey in March. Nevertheless, in all countries surveyed, support for membership remains higher than it was prior to the invasion.

Strong support among Europeans and Americans for Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO

In late June, NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. There is majority support in each country surveyed for the two members to join. Poles are the most enthusiastic to welcome the two Nordic countries, with 77% supporting Swedish membership and 73% for Finnish.

NATO also recognises Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina as “aspiring members”.

There is high support for Ukraine joining the alliance. A majority of Poles, Britons, Spaniards and Americans support entry for the embattled nation gaining admission, with pluralities of Germans, Italians and French people saying the same. Germans are the most notably opposed to Ukrainian membership, at 37%.

Responses from elsewhere in the survey indicate that only a minority of people in each country want to take actions that could or would spark a war with Russia, so it is unlikely that these large numbers in support of Ukrainian NATO membership indicate a desire for immediate membership followed by NATO entering the war in Ukraine’s defence.

Ukraine is, in any case, not currently eligible for NATO membership, as it is a requirement that they aspiring members not be involved in any territorial disputes, of which Ukraine clearly has a very big one with Russia…

Support is notably lower for allowing Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to join NATO, with the Germans and French either divided or marginally opposed. There is nominally high net support for their membership among Americans, Britons, Italians, Poles and Spaniards, with support much higher than opposition, although the results are characterised by extremely high rates of “don’t know” responses, reaching as high as 46-47% in the UK.

See the full results here

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