5th Dec 2021

Sweden says no to the euro

In a referendum overshadowed by tragedy, the Swedish people have voted overwhelmingly to reject the euro and keep the krona as their currency.

With all votes counted, the final result was 56.1 - 41.8 for the no campaign with a turnout of 81.2 percent - slightly lower than the 1994 referendum on EU membership, in which 83.3 percent voted.

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The question Swedes were asked was, "do you think Sweden should adopt the euro as its currency?"

Overall, 3.2 million Swedes said 'no' to this question, compared to 2.3 million who voted in favour.

Exit polls confirmed

The result approximately confirmed an initial exit poll of 7000 people, revealed minutes after the polling stations closed, which also pointed to a small no majority.

The exit poll showed 51.8 percent voting 'no', 46.2 percent voting 'yes', with 2 percent leaving their ballot papers blank. In fact, the final result produced an even more convincing victory for the no camp.

This decision means that Sweden, the UK and Denmark remain outside the euro zone.

Celebration muted by tragedy

But celebrations were muted in the no camp and the overall result has to be seen in the context of the tragic murder on Thursday 11 September of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

It is difficult to say exactly what effect the murder had on the referendum, but it seems there was some swing to the yes side, resulting from "sympathy votes".

Before the murder, polls were suggesting that the no camp were widening their lead to over 10 points but the final result shows that Ms Lindh's death actually had little effect on the overall outcome.

Persson: we will respect the decision

Prime Minister Göran Persson admitted defeat at 10pm, saying that there was a "very clear outcome with a very high turnout". Therefore, he concluded, "it is very easy to respect the the decision".

He said he regretted that the referendum was held as large countries in the euzo zone were in recession and struggling with high deficits. "The result shows a profound scepticism of the EMU project", he added.

Finally, he paid respect to Ms Lindh, saying that he "deeply regretted that the referendum campaign had to end in tragedy".

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said in Bologna that the result was "worse than I expected".

\"A rational decision\"

Henrik Dahlson, a spokesman for the group Europa Ja, Euro Nej, praised the rationality of the Swedish people. He said, "despite the death of Anna Lindh, the people have made a rational choice. They know that the euro zone is in crisis and that Sweden is doing well outside".

Mr Dahlson drew parallels to the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference. He said, "this sends a positive message to Brussels - that the people must be consulted in the IGC".

Eurosceptics from the UK - the biggest EU country remaining outside the euro agreed. George Eustice, campaign director of the UK no campaign said, "The only two countries to be given a vote on the euro have rejected it".

"People in Sweden can see the problems in the euro zone and they do not want to give up control of their economy and accept lower growth and higher unemployment", added Mr Eustice.

Jens-Peter Bonde, a leading eurosceptic from Denmark, the third country outside EMU said, "this shows that the majority of politicians are in conflict with the majority of people".

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