Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Swedes still oppose the euro (and are not too happy about the rest of it)

Awkward customers the Swedes and have been so since the days of the great king Gustavus Adolphus. Having voted against the euro in a referendum in September 2003, they still maintain that they do not want to abandon the krone. And, indeed, why should they? After all, none of the terrible things that they have been threatened with, have materialized.

According to a survey conducted by Statistics Sweden, 49 per cent will vote no to the country joining the euro, were it conducted the day after the question was asked, 37 per cent would vote yes, and 14 per cent were undecided.

Euro-enthusiasts are trying to console themselves with the thought that the proportion of those saying no has gone down from the last survey, conducted in May. Then 51 per cent said no. On the other hand, the proportion of yes voters has gone down, as well, by one per cent. The undecided have gone up from 11 per cent. All of which reflects merely the fact that the Swedes know that there is no referendum coming on the euro and, therefore, they can afford the luxury of “not knowing” or not bothering to reply properly. (Even the civic-minded Scandinavians must get fed up with these endless polls and questionnaires.)

The Swedish government, as we know, has decided not to have a referendum on the constitution. They know what they are doing. The same poll found that 43.5 percent had a positive view of the EU, compared to 33.6 percent who had a negative view and 22.8 percent who were undecided, before the details of the constitution were even known. A referendum after a dedicated campaign could turn out to be very unsatisfactory from the government’s point of view.

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