Main Article Content
Conscription is a political institution that may socialize individuals to acquire such values as a sense of patriotism and duty toward state. In democratic countries, public support for conscription is vital. In this article we study the effects of public opinion on Swedish and Finnish politics from 2008 to 2010 and from 2017 to 2021. Based on an analysis of political language, we argue that the use of such language is central to seeking legitimacy for controversial issues. To that end, political discussions and interpretations of public opinion are central ways of creating and legitimizing policy. By conducting a qualitative, conceptual, and contextual analysis of digitized parliamentary documents in Sweden and Finland, this article suggests that in both countries political elites have spoken about public opinion to support the crafting of defense policy, particularly when speaking about the necessity to reform conscription so as to maintain citizens’ engagement with defense and their acceptance of conscription as a core institution of national defense.