Sweden’s Euro Hostility Hits A Record

As the Eurozone flails about to keep its chin above the debt crisis that is drowning periphery countries, and as the European Union struggles to duct-tape itself together with more “integration,” that is governance by unelected transnational eurocrats, Sweden is having second thoughts: never before has there been such hostility toward the euro.

Sweden is a special case. It joined the EU in 1995 after its people had graciously been allowed to express their will in a referendum in 1994—with 52.3% voting in favor. As every country that joins the EU, Sweden signed an accession treaty that obligates it to adopt the euro, but without deadline. So in 2003, the government thought time had come to make the move. It asked the people in a non-binding referendum if they wanted to accede to the Eurozone. September 14 was the day.

The people rebelled. They demolished the euro, with 55.9% voting against it and 42% for it. They didn’t want to trade in their beloved krona for the newfangled currency. They didn’t want to give up sovereignty over their monetary policy. It shook up eurocrats, member governments, finance ministers, and heads of state around the continent. And the European power structure learned a lesson: don’t let the riffraff decide; it was the last time that people in the EU had been allowed to vote on the euro.

But in Sweden, the euro is on the table twice a year via a survey by the Swedish statistical agency that asks people how they’d vote if a referendum were held “today” on joining the euro. The results of the survey conducted in November just came out. Sobering results: 82.3% would vote against joining the euro, only 9.6% would vote for it, and 8% were betwixt and between. The euro’s descent into utter unpopularity hell set a new record.

(In an amusing aside of unknown unimportance, more women than men had trouble making up their minds with 10.2% of the women straddling the fence versus 5.8% of the men.)

There was a dramatic change of mind among those who in the May survey had voted to join the euro: 52% of them switched to no, 11% switched to undecided. Disillusionment is spreading even among the euro’s erstwhile supporters. Only 37% stuck to their original yes-vote. Of the naysayers in May, however, 95% stuck to their no-votes.

Historically, the no-vote has dominated the yes-vote in Sweden. Since the survey series started in 1997, there were only three periods when the yes-crowd—if that’s the right word—outnumbered the naysayers: a blip in 1999; from May 2001 through November 2002; and then another blip in 2009 during the financial crisis when the economy went into a horrific swoon. Perhaps they thought there was strength in numbers.

But in 2010, the economy rebounded vigorously. The budget deficit diminished and by 2012 nearly disappeared. Conversations about cutting taxes were heard in polite company. Meanwhile, in the Eurozone, the debt crisis, and its evil twin, austerity, were spreading far and wide. They mangled periphery countries, squashed GDP growth in other Eurozone countries, and started to gnaw even on Germany that had considered itself above the fray. Swedish opposition to the euro skyrocketed.


Alas, Statistics Sweden also asked the people how they’d vote if a referendum were held “today” on remaining in the EU—the very issue voters had already decided by referendum in 1994.

The popularity of EU membership, after an initial rough patch, had been climbing for years and peaked, or rather plateaued, from late 2008 through 2011 with around 55% of the people voting for it. But the debt crisis with its non-solutions, its sacrifices by the lower levels of society, its convoluted undemocratic taxpayer-funded bailouts of bondholders and banks finally had an impact. The yes-votes fizzled. In the November survey, only 45% voted for membership and 26% voted against it. And it set a record: 29% couldn’t decide.

EU membership is becoming unpopular in Sweden. And the euro is despised. Not a good omen.

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  3 comments for “Sweden’s Euro Hostility Hits A Record

  1. Mike says:

    Swedes also voted overwhelmingly against the FRA law, which gives the Swedish government the right to spy on all electronic communication (email, phone, etc), but that didn't stop the Swedish politicians from passing the law anyway. So, I have little faith that the Swedish government will do the right thing. The Swedish housing bubble, which is popping at this very moment, will be the perfect excuse/cover/lie for the Swedish government to join the EMU.

  2. Rik says:

    @Mike and Aleph0
    Sweden has since the last election a populist/anti-immigration party. This party now has a proper presence in Swedish parliament and their leader looks human (like a normal politicians not a tattooed streetmonkey).
    In all countries where this has happened the dynamics of politics has changed. Danemark, Uk, France, Holland, Finland.
    Meaning that if traditional politics neglect the voter these move 'en masse' to the populists. 10-20% is often enough the change the whole thing. But depends on the electoral system. As it often takes mainly votes away from 1 or 2 parties. In order to survive these traditional parties will have to move in the populist direction and subsequently things will never be the same.
    The UK with the UKIP is the best example at the moment. It pulls the voters away from the Tories and these have to take action and do now.

    Most 'sophisticated' populists parties are probably in Danemark and Holland (Wilders). Look at their main items and you know how the populist party in your country will most likley have to look to make it work. Basically copy Wilders and you have a: 'How to create a successful populist party for dummies' manual.
    One of the issues is always the EU/Euro. As the EU is pro-immigration effectively (and the immigration from Eastern Europe causes some serious social problems). Money for Greece beach bums is another one.

    So basically Swedish politics might want to go in another direction (I doubt that with these percentages btw) but they will create most likley a big populist party by doing that. I doubt if any Swedish politician has looked at the rest of Western Europe (s)he will take that chance even if the percentages are considerably lower.

    Doubtful as well if Swedish business wants Sweden to become an Euromember. Now certainly not. But Sweden has the advantage becase it is so small (population) to keep a relatively low exchange rate (because of the lack of liquidity/volume) which is good for export.

    Germany has not really a populist alternative yet. All starters in that direction simply look utter crap. Which makes that country more relying on mainstream politics (basically on the issue of the Euro against the wishes of the majority of their people). However they have their Constitution and Constitutional Court and Jens (who should properly eat his veggies everyday) Weidmann of the Buba. As a counterweight. But that works different.
    Italy has the 5 star. The guy looks like a complete idiot (with some proper policies however) but has 20% in polls. Another point people in Europe have never been more disillusioned with their politicians so might be in for something else. Often first in elections they go for certain (read traditional parties) but if these donot deliver (as they do now nearly everywhere in Europe they are ready for a change). But first they give a warning in the polls (often negelcted by the traditional parties btw. Most would never have worked if main stream politics had looked at the polls and talk to their voters and used their brain (but apparently the latter is pretty difficult).

  3. Makati1 says:

    With all that is going on in the world, you can get info overload quite quickly. All of the events point to a very dangerous and messy next 5 -10 years.

    The Euro is going to die one way or another, from my point of view, and the EU is probably going to break up.
    The Middle East is going to explode.
    Huge inflation in the West will follow.
    Climate change is going to make more and more seriousproblems all over the world.
    The US is either going to start world war 3 or crumble under a depression and collapse of the dollar.

    I try to follow all of the events but, even with 2-3 hours per day, it is difficult. It appears the human world has passed the point of sanity (if it had ever actually reached that level) and is headed toward the extinction of the human species. Meanwhile, I'll watch the comic tragedy unfold and hope for the best.

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