20 years after rejecting euro, Sweden has no regrets: poll

Twenty years after rejecting the euro in a referendum, Sweden remains firmly attached to its krona despite a recent boost for the euro attributed to the country’s economic woes, a poll showed Thursday.

On September 14, 2003, 56 percent of Swedes voted against switching to the euro, while only 42 percent were in favour, despite an intensive campaign backed by the then-Social Democratic government and business leaders.

Two decades later, eurosceptics remain the largest group, at 47 percent, according to a public opinion poll conducted by the Ipsos institute for newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

However, opposition has declined in recent months, down from 54 percent in February.

Those in favour of the euro have meanwhile risen from 19 to 30 percent since February.

“The inflation (food prices, electricity prices, fuel prices) that accelerated last year has, together with the sharp rise in interest rates, affected household finances and has led to the issue of the euro again coming to the fore in the Swedish debate,” Ipsos analyst Nicklas Kallebring told AFP.

“The fact that the Swedish krona has lost value and that some of the inflation is imported has affected Swedish voters’ views on the euro issue,” he added.

The Swedish krona hit a record low in late August at 11.96 against the euro, while inflation has hovered close to 10 percent for a year.

While the euro debate has recently been revived, the issue has “a limited place in the public debate”, Kallebring said.

Lars Calmfors, a professor of international economics at Stockholm University, said Sweden’s decision to remain outside the eurozone had not had much of an impact.

“Our economy has evolved pretty similarly to the eurozone’s,” Calmfors told Swedish public radio.

“We may have even had a certain advantage by remaining outside, since the krona has weakened during international crises and that has helped us keep production and employment at high levels,” he said.

“But now it’s the opposite, it’s a problem that the krona is weak because it aggravates the inflation problem,” Calmfors said.

The Ipsos poll surveyed 1,291 people over the age of 18 from August 15 to 27. (AFP)