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Europe

Swedes Stick to the Krona

Swedish voters came out strong against the euro on Sunday. Despite a last-minute boost to the "yes" camp after the murder of Anna Lindh, official results showed 56 percent were opposed to introducing the common currency.

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Swedes cast their votes in an emotional euro referendum.

Marked by shock and mourning for the loss of popular foreign minister Anna Lindh, Sunday's emotional referendum on the adoption of the euro in Sweden turned in favor of the country's strong eurosceptic camp.

Anna Lindh gestorben

Anna Lindh

Despite a last-minute boost for the pro-euro camp in the aftermath of the shock murder of Lindh who was a strong advocate of the common currency, the naysayers were in the clear majority. With official results showing 56 percent against the euro and only 42 percent in favor, the Swedes said "nej" to entering the euro zone and joined the ranks of Denmark and Britain as the third European Union member to maintain its national currency.

A defeat for Persson

Sunday's outcome represents a defeat for Prime Minister Goran Persson, who like Anna Lindh campaigned hard for the adoption of the euro. Supported by major political parties and big business, Persson tried in vain to convince the country’s nine million citizens, the euro would boost trade and bring in stronger growth.

Sweden’s eurosceptic camp was leading in opinion polls since April, but the sudden tragic death of foreign minister and leading pro-euro campaigner Anna Lindh just three days before the vote had raised hopes the "yes" side could benefit from an outpouring of sympathy votes.

Swedes strongly wary of euro

Many Swedes have been skeptical towards the euro since the Swedish economy has performed better than those of euro zone heavyweights Germany and France. Both countries also continue to flout EU rules on budget deficits that are supposed to secure the euro, increasing fears that such infringements could harm other euro zone members' economies.

Others in Sweden feared joining the euro could mean Stockholm would lose control over the country’s generous welfare system, as control over monetary policy is ceded to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

Despite their clear victory, celebrations among the eurosceptic winners were muted in light of the grief and mourning for Anna Lindh.

Lindh's killer still at large

The 46-year-old mother of two, who was tipped as a future prime minister, died on Wednesday after being stabbed repeatedly by an assailant in an upscale department store in Stockholm.

On Saturday, Sweden’s tabloids published a series of photographs of the suspected killer, gleaned from the video footage. The killer was shown wearing a blue baseball cap and a gray sweatshirt, his face obscured.

Though police have no concrete information on the killer’s identity they contend that the attack was carried out by a person, acting alone and on impulse. They believe he probably comes from the violent drug scene in Stockholm. "This is not the act of a novice criminal. The killer has done this kind of thing before – you don’t begin your criminal career with this kind of crime," an official told news agency AFP. Swedish media said on Saturday the police had focused their search on a pool of five to ten suspects.

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