The Swedes Say “No” to the Euro: The Revolt of Moderates

Letter From Sweden

Following the Danish rejection of the euro in September 2000 and the Irish rejection of Nice in June 2001, the Swedes have rejected the euro by an overwhelming majority, despite the “yes” side having outspent the opposition by more than five to one.

For the first time in decades (possibly in centuries), the Swedes did not heed the call of their political establishment, which urged them to back the government decision to join the eurozone.  “A violent straight to the face of power” was the headline splashed across the front page of the major Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on the day after the September 14 referendum.

These were the final figures: 56.1 percent said “no,” and 41.8 percent said “yes,” with 2.1 percent of the ballots left blank.  Over 80 percent of Sweden’s 7.1 million voters turned out.  This victory goes well beyond the mere numerical margin, so much so that the term “crushing” could not have been more appropriate.  Such analysis would generally apply to all countries where there have been E.U.-related referenda, either on the addition of new members (the last of these referenda was held in Latvia on September 20, 2003) or simply on joining the eurozone.  In all these countries, the pro-euro camp enjoyed far greater funding and support.  Sweden was no exception: Business, the political parties, the press,...

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