Political instrumentalization of defence will in Finland, Sweden and Austria. Comparative analysis, 1939-2017. (2018-)


This research project examines connections between politics and popular attitudes towards national military defence in three countries. Defence will, or the public spirit of citizens in connection with national defence is part of a public discussion in Finland through the usage of concept maanpuolustustahto. The Finnish political elite are often describing this form of public spirit as a vital part of Finnish military defence, to supplement the Finnish Defence Forces. In the public discussions, the national conscription service that provides the needed number of service personnel for the Defence Forces has two meanings in terms of defence will. Not only does the successful applying of conscription service require sufficient level of this public sprit, but the conscription service also maintains the internationally high-level defence will in Finland.

Defence will or maanpuolustustahto seems to offer a way both to address the society as a whole about the needs of the military defence and to reconstruct national identity. In this case, national identity surrounds the national defence and incorporates views concerning not only the independence of a small European state like Finland but also helps in showing respect towards the Second World War and human sacrifices that took place at that period.

At the same time, this very same concept seems to act as a political key concept in political debates and is thus prone for politicization. We are interested to examine the political aspect of defence will, a field of research seldom present in studies on the topic or even in the public discussion.

To offer better framework, we are interested to examine similar connections in two other small European states that are not members of military alliances and have utilized national conscription as their primary mean to enlist military personnel. Furthermore, the spiritual defence (Swiss term, Geistige Landesverteidigung) relating deeply to the Finnish historical and societal context regarding defence will has major connections both to Swedish and Austrian contexts.

We utilize variety of sources dealing with public political debates in order to see do politics indeed play a role around the public debate on defence will. If it does, what does that mean for the national defence policies?




Finnish-based Kone Foundation has awarded two-year funding period for the project. Project was launched in January 2018.



defence spirit, defence will, national defence, defence policy, political debate, political decision-making

Research group