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European Press Review: The Swedish Revolt

Sweden’s rejection of the euro was the top subject in editorials across Europe on Monday. The overwhelming "no" vote was seen as the people’s revolt against the country’s political elite and Brussels rule.


"Nej" or "Ja" was the question in Sweden on Sunday.

The Sydsvenska Dagbladet from Stockholm summed it up by saying, "In the Swedish Parliament, a solid majority supported adopting the euro – four out of seven parties. So did the government, the economy, the heads of labor unions and all the big newspapers. But the people said "no." Plus, one has to factor in the brutal murder of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. Her death also must have caused sympathy for her support of the euro. If she hadn’t died last week, the difference between yes and no would have been even greater. This was a paralyzing low point for Prime Minister Göran Persson. The political establishment simply can’t go back to doing what it was doing. The voters have revolted, and the air must be cleared."

The Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote that "with a clear ‘no,’ the Swedes have put up a revolt against Europe and the political elite of their country. The euroskeptics didn’t have any outstanding leader and not much funding. A mixed alliance of the extreme right, extreme left and other opponents of the establishment brought about their victory. The Swedish rebellion will bring out other difficulties for European integration, most of all when the planned European constitution has to be passed through individual countries with popular vote."

The Financial Times Deutschland commented that "It wasn’t only a ‘no’ to the euro, it was a ‘no’ to Europe. The people have spoken out in distrust for the monetary union. It’s a bad signal for the coming decisions in Great Britain and Denmark. If the Swedes had voted for the euro, the British and the Danes wouldn’t have been able to pull back from it. But the European Community is hard hit coming out of this."

The Basler Zeitung wrote that "The test of democracy is crisis. With the euro-referendum, Swedish democracy passed its test. The Swedes came together following the death of their Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh. The tough tone of the campaign disappeared behind the nation’s grief. Nonetheless, the voters were able to distinguish between sympathy for a politician and a question of substance. So the vote of the people produced a result that Lindh fought against, but had been clear for months: Sweden says ‘no’."

The Telegraph from London looked at the prospect of the euro being adopted in Britain. In its view "deep down, even the most fanatical supporters of the euro must now recognize that it isn't going to happen. Their two main contentions - that the euro is inevitable, and that Britain is too small to go it alone - have been blown away by Sweden's ‘nej’. In Britain the public is two-to-one against the currency. The question is no longer, ‘Will Britain join the euro?’, or even, ‘Should Britain join the euro?’, but, ‘Given that Britain is not joining the euro, what kind of relationship should we forge with our neighbors?’"