International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 22, 2003

September 22, 2003





**  Sweden's healthy economy, distrust of political elites led to rejection of euro; holding referendum even after the murder of foreign minister was "a victory for Swedish democracy."


**  A euro vote in Britain and Denmark is "not winnable now for many years."


**  The "no" vote "will have repercussions" on the future of European integration.




Euro vote was 'a unique departure from Swedish tradition'--  Noting that Swedes "have traditionally been far more inclined" to vote as their leaders ask than some other nationalities, European dailies called the negative outcome of the referendum to replace the Swedish kroner with the euro "a break with tradition."  Writers cited the electorate's fears of being overwhelmed within "the EU colossus" as well as "popular distrust" of elites.  "The gap between governing and governed has increased," held Sweden's conservative Svenska Dagbladet.  The vote also "had a lot to do" with Swedish pocketbooks.  Swedes were being asked to "give up the status quo...a difficult proposition to sell in a county which has a healthy economy."  Remarking that the referendum took place against the "tragic background" of the murder of pro-euro Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, many analysts called the vote "a tribute to Swedish democracy."


'Rejection will ease pressure' on UK, Denmark to join euro-zone--  Editorialists in Britain and Denmark asserted that Sweden's vote "has important implications" for the future of the single currency in both countries.  A Danish paper lamented the vote's "bad result."  The conservative UK press trumpeted the "harsh lesson" for Tony Blair, perceived to be shepherding his country towards adopting the euro.  The Swedish vote belied the "inexorability" of the euro's march, declared the Daily Telegraph.  The vote showed that the single currency "has not yet won the battle for its credibility," said Italy's centrist, influential Corriere della Sera.  Many writers judged that the Swedes were also reacting negatively to the fact that France and Germany have been breaking the deficit limits of the Stability and Growth Pact "and getting away with it."


Vote was also 'a setback for the EU'--  Though the Swedish "no" on the euro stood in "glaring contrast to the unreserved EU enthusiasm" shown by the "yes" vote of Estonians in their referendum on joining the European Union, a number of analysts contended the vote "indicates further difficulties for European integration."  The euro, argued Germany's centrist Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, is not only a currency "but the most important integration staple" for an increasingly close Union.  A right-of-center German paper called the vote's result "psychological poison for the controversial European Constitution," which will also have to be approved in some countries by referendum.  "Sweden has opted to turn in on itself" and increased the risk of a Europe "divided in two" between those countries favoring a rapid move forward towards further integration and skeptics "intending to remain behind."


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 36 reports from 13 countries, September 6-17, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




SWEDEN:  "Congratulations To The Left On A Resounding Victory"


Conservative Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (Internet version) (9/16):  "A number of different factors lie behind the overwhelming no-victory....  There were more deep-rooted reasons for the people's vote, which must be respected....  Sweden is a divided nation.  We have not reached agreement on a national consensus along Finnish lines, or on a vision of a supranational Europe....  The north is lined up against the south, everyone lines up against Stockholm, men against women....  There is a popular distrust of the elites.  Not in respect of the liberal vision of equal rights and opportunities, but more in respect of the socialist variant....  This hits business leaders and politicians, particularly those who preach equality but who themselves take home million-krona salaries.... 


"Generations of Swedes have been told that Sweden's outsider status is part of the tradition that has kept them out of conflicts....  For a long time the Social Democratic leadership was in favor of special-status solutions in foreign policy.  Suddenly this line was to be abandoned....  There has been the long-lived myth that the 'Swedish' model has given us the greatest prosperity, the best public services, and the lowest rates of unemployment.  Now everything was to be gambled....  Many left-wing voters have felt that Sweden was hoodwinked into joining the EU and wanted now to make a stand.  They have not subsequently been told by the Social Democratic leadership what membership has meant.  It was these popular perceptions that benefited the no-side.  In addition, this time there have also been new arguments put forward which have also attracted the right wing's nay-sayers....  The Social Democratic leadership has been challenged, the sins of omission must now be paid for.  Now the next phase is starting, an EU constitutional debate.  A no in a referendum on the treaty would take Sweden out of the EU.  That would return us to normality, a position on the outside."


"Election Outcome A Break From Swedish Tradition"


Anders Jonsson commented in conservative Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet (Internet version) (9/15):  "It was a real slap at the establishment in general and the Social Democratic leadership, personified by Prime Minister Goran Persson....  Despite massive support from most authorities among politicians, economists, and CEOs, an overwhelming majority voted no.  Or perhaps precisely because of that.  The outcome of the election was a unique departure from Swedish tradition.  In earlier national referenda....the sitting government got what it wanted.  But not this time....  With such a strong advantage for a no vote on the euro, it will be many years before the issue comes up again.  If so, then public opinion would have to have swung permanently and Denmark and Great Britain would have had to join....   The gap between governing and governed has increased.....  Significantly more of those who voted yes had great trust in politicians than did those who voted no."


"No.  Europe Will Not Wait For Sweden"


Conservative Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet remarked (Internet version) (9/15):  "The anti-euro side can be congratulated--Sweden chose a different route than Estonia and the new EU countries, away from Europe.... Despite general support for democracy, it is a politically divided nation and split parties that will have to deal with the consequences of non-membership for many years to come.  The effects will be limited to begin with....  European integration will roll on, with Sweden less involved than it would have been in the event of a pro-euro victory.  Another referendum should be held as soon as possible....  We saw the third stage of economic and monetary union as a logical consequence of the first two steps, and as a natural part of European integration....  The European debate in Sweden was postponed year after year with reference to an upcoming referendum.  In this way, the politicians' major task of leading Sweden into Europe and Europe into Sweden was obscured by narrower issues, such as the referendum campaign's fixation on the Bank of Sweden....  Europe will not wait for Sweden.  The project of integration will now move on, the next topic of discussion being the proposal for the EU constitution"


"Serious Setback For The Power Elite"


Independent, liberal Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter judged (Internet version) (9/14):  "The 'no' vote] a serious setback for the political and economic elite in Sweden.  But it is these losers who will now continue to lead the country....     The winners are a disparate collection from right to left.  But, above all, the interpretation of the no victory must be that the voters are putting their foot down on the plans for Sweden to participate in a continued intensification of EU cooperation.  The yes-parties have not succeeded in breaking through the EU skepticism which has existed ever since Sweden joined the European Union.  And along with mistrust of politicians and concern over the consequences of handing over the national right of decision on monetary policy, voters from all political groups came together.  This means that Sweden's relationship with the European Union will be unresolved....   During the referendum campaign Goran Persson saw to it primarily that he would keep the government and the Social Democratic Party and he did not gamble his position as prime minister.  But the no victory still weakens his political authority, and does so in parallel with the murder of the country's experienced foreign minister.  This causes Sweden's position in EU cooperation to be weakened, and the government is likely to act very cautiously in the upcoming negotiations over a new EU constitution.  But, above all, on the euro issue the government and the most splintered parties will now be forced to devote most of their efforts to internal consolidation instead of forward-looking political discussion.  The political leadership must also contemplate how to establish a genuine debate about the European cooperation, in which the voters and politicians end up on the same wavelength."


BRITAIN:  "If You Ask, We Say 'No'"


The conservative Daily Telegraph commented (9/16):  "This was not the battle that euro-zealots like to portray, between open-minded internationalists and old Blimps.  If anything, the sheer greyness of the pro-euro campaign convinced many that 'No' was a more dashing, more idealistic choice.  The reason this matters is that European integration depends, more than is often realised, on a sense of inexorability.  The feeling that the euro (or the constitution, or whatever) will happen anyway is a substitute for winning the arguments....  Once something is thought to be inevitable, its opponents can easily be portrayed--indeed, may come to see themselves--as losers.  That is why the Swedish vote matters....  Britain shows the same demographic breakdown as Sweden and other countries: those who are keenest on scrapping the pound are middle-class men in their fifties....  The EU could never have come as far as it has, had it regularly asked for people's opinions....  This week, [Blair's] government repeated that there would be no referendum on the Euro-constitution--a far larger matter than the single currency....  There must come a time when the people are allowed their say.  That time, surely, is now."


"Euro Swansong"


The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (9/15):  "Deep down, even the most fanatical supporters of the euro must now recognize that it isn't going to happen....  The 'yes' side was calculated to have spent more than the George Bush election campaign....  Politely, but firmly, [Sweden's voters] rejected their leaders' advice and voted to keep the krona....  The British, Swedish and Danish opt-outs now look permanent.  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 out neighbors?'  All three parties need to do some muscular thinking about this for, at present, our foreign policy is built on a falsehood.  Central to Britain's diplomacy is the notion that, by 'leading in Europe', we can make the EU more receptive to our needs....  It is clear that the British people have no desire to 'lead in Europe' if that means surrendering their currency and diminishing their independence."


"Swedish Euro Vote Has Harsh Lessons For A Distracted Blair"


The center-left Independent commented (9/15):  "The Swedes were never given much of a reason for voting to adopt the euro and, so long as the issue remained one of the élite against the ordinary people, the Yes cause seemed unlikely to prevail.  The patronizing assumption that people might change their minds because of the appalling murder of an attractive politician rather than because of the arguments has been confounded.  The Swedish vote undoubtedly has important implications for Britain, however much the more idealistic euro supporters might try to brush it off....  It will not make much difference to most Britons that they are less alone in the European Union than they otherwise would be in holding on to their own currency.  It is more a lesson in the dynamics of a referendum.  It suggests that Tony Blair's fond belief that the terms of the debate would be transformed the moment he himself declared for adopting the euro is a little optimistic....  In Sweden, the voters were being asked to give up the status quo for something different.  That is a difficult proposition to sell to country which has a healthy economy, a sea between it and the rest of the continent and pride in its national political institutions.  It suggests that political leaders who are committed to their nation playing a central role in Europe need to be more aggressive over a longer period in making the argument about how full membership of the single European market is in our long term interests, economic and otherwise....  A euro referendum in Britain does not look winnable for many years to come."


"Rejection Will Ease Pressure On Britain And Denmark To Join Eurozone"


Stephen Castle  judged in the center-left Independent (9/15):  "Sweden's voters have struck a profound blow to Europe's single currency, giving a vote of no confidence in the euro and making early Danish and UK membership unlikely.  The result underlines the difficulty pro-Europeans face in winning any popular vote against opponents who portray their cause as elitist and remote from the voters.  Not even the sympathy factor after the murder of the country's Foreign Minister and pro-euro campaigner Anna Lindh could swing the result....  The eurozone needs economies like the Swedes' to bolster its credibility.  The 12-nation bloc is facing stagnation and mounting budget deficits while Sweden is a model of Scandinavian efficiency.... 


"Admitting the Swedish kroner would have restored some faith in the euro when its rulebook, the so-called Stability and Growth Pact, is in disarray.  But, with Swedish membership killed off for some years, the result will have a domino effect.  Denmark's government has made clear it would like a second referendum....  That prospect is now significantly further off.  In turn, Britain will face less pressure to join since it will, for some years at least, have the company of two Scandinavian nations in the EU's outer economic tier.  Next to join the bloc may a few of the former Communist nations due to join the EU next year, but the addition of currencies such as the Polish zloty may not be so welcome to foreign exchange markets as the kroner.  Yesterday's vote showed how difficult it is to win a referendum for European integration.  Recently the pro-European side has had a miserable run."


"A Swedish Lesson, Tony"


The tabloid Daily Mirror remarked (9/15):  "The Swedes have chosen their destiny.  They have voted to live on the fringes of Europe.  When they realize what they have done, they won't be able to say they didn't have a choice.  Their economy will not collapse overnight but sooner rather than later they will realize the mistake they have made in not joining the huge and powerful new euro zone.  In Britain there will be jubilation among the anti-Europeans who are determined for us to cling to the pound at whatever cost to the people in lost jobs, lower incomes and worse services.  For Tony Blair, the Swedish vote should be an electrifying wake-up call....  He has allowed his powerful case [for the euro] to drift, giving the field to the anti-Europeans.  He thought that when the time came for us to hold our euro referendum, he could swing the argument in favour of a Yes vote.  That was always going to be an uphill struggle.  The Swedes have shown just how tough it will be.  They have consigned themselves to their own second-class fate.  It would be a disaster if Blair has done the same to us."


"After Swedish Vote, Blair Should Ditch Referendum"


The conservative Scotsman of Edinburgh judged (9/15):  "The understandable political crisis that followed the murder of the Swedish foreign minister, Anna Lindh, made some commentators think that the tragedy might lead voters to reconsider their opposition to membership of the euro currency zone.  But, in practice, the outcome of yesterday’s referendum was decided long ago.  Sweden joins Denmark in staying out of the euro zone for a mixture of political and economic reasons....  The vote had a lot to do with Swedish pockets.  Sweden’s unemployment is lower and its economic growth higher than the 12-nation euro zone's average--just like the UK.  Why mend something that isn’t broke?...


"There has now been sufficient experience of the euro to appreciate its problems.  An early failure by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to lower the one-size-fits-all interest rate helped tip the eurozone economy into recession....  France and Germany have deliberately flouted the rules on public a result of rising unemployment.  This is making the financial markets very jittery about the currency.  After all, if the French government can effectively print as many euros as it needs to buy its way out of trouble, what value is there in holding euros?...  The average Swede may not have an economics degree but they can see when their economy is working and when the euro zone is not.  The Swedish 'no' is a vote of no confidence in the euro which Brussels and Frankfurt will have to take to heart....  Equally, the average British voter can count....  If the dour Swedes are not convinced, why should we be?...  There may be arguments for and against long-term euro membership, but few tenable short- or medium-term ones.  Perhaps when Mr. Blair is free of other distractions, he will recognize that and kick his own euro referendum into touch."


"Wise Choice"


The tabloid Sun contended (9/15):  "In the end, the Swedes used their heads not their hearts.  The vote against joining the single currency is right for their country.  No amount of sympathy for murdered foreign minister Anna Lindh can alter that.  The Swedish economy is doing well outside the eurozone.  That will continue.  Sweden will flourish as countries like Germany and France struggle.  Tony Blair should reflect long and hard on the common sense of the Swedish voters.  If he were daft enough to put joining the euro to the vote here, the No would be overwhelming.  Like Britain, Sweden has no need to jump into the economic basketcase on its doorstep."


"A Swedish 'No'"


The conservative Times took this view (9/15):  "Imagine how unrepresentative a referendum on the monarchy held days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, would have been.  The result of the Swedish referendum on the euro...must be judged in a similar light.  After Anna Lindh, the foreign minister, the popular face of the 'yes' campaign, was fatally stabbed in a department store, the Swedish referendum became less of a battle between the arguments over the single currency and, in part, a memorial to a much-loved woman.  This inevitably swung some voters towards the 'yes' camp....  [The] population...knew Swedish unemployment was less than half that of the eurozone and that its economy was the second fastest-growing in Europe....  The left-wing arguments against joining the euro were formidably deployed....  The protection of sovereignty may traditionally be seen as the preserve of the Right, but voters who believe in the power of the State to intervene in society are equally loath to see that power usurped by Brussels.  This lesson is particularly pertinent to Tony Blair's ambitions to take Britain into the euro....  If Sweden, even after the death of Ms. Lindh, was not prepared to vote for euro entry, it is almost inconceivable that Britain could be persuaded to do so."


FRANCE:  "Europe Off To A Bad Start"


Jacques Amalric observed in left-of-center Liberation (Internet version) (9/11):  "The off-handedness with which Paris intends to abandon the constraints of the Stability Pact seems equally disastrous in the East European capitals (and even in Sweden, where it is exploited by the opponents of the euro....).  The fact that France is calmly preparing to violate its budget commitments in 2004, for the third year in a row, is considered in Eastern Europe to be the proof of a system with a double standard....  In thus setting a bad example while regularly citing the necessity of an economic government for the euro zone, Paris has lost a great deal of the influence it had regained at the start of the summer....  The idea once again prevails that for France, the European rules are above all good for the others, and that the European Commission remains an excellent domestic politics."


"Against Europe"


Left-of-center Le Monde observed (Internet version) (9/6):  "Rarely will a French prime minister have made remarks so surprising on France and contemptuous of Europe.  Interviewed...4 September on TF1, Jean-Pierre Raffarin declared that the European Stability Pact was 'important' but that 'his first duty (was) to see to it that there is work' for the French....  As if one could pit the European choices of France against the creation of jobs in a country which conducts more than half of its foreign trade with its EU partners!  Mr. Raffarin underestimates, to say the least, the economic savvy of the French at this beginning of the twenty-first century.  They do not pit Europe against employment....  The prime minister addressed the public deficit in 2003--4 percent....  These numbers place France in violation of the 3 percent budget deficit...authorized in the euro zone....  Must one remind Mr. Raffarin that this 3 percent, judged necessary for the stability of the euro, was one of the requirements of France at the negotiations for the launching of the common currency?...that these engagements on the part of France are not made for 'this or that office' but for the other European partners?...that they bind France, and that it's the word of the country he governs which he harms....  Our partners in the EU who force themselves to make budgetary efforts will appreciate it."


GERMANY:  "Outside"


Jasper von Altenbeckum penned the following front-page editorial for center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/16):  "The outcome of the euro referendum shows how far the North--with the exception of Finland--is still away from Europe....  Prime Minister Persson's explanation that the Swedes, as the guardian of the holy Stability Pact grail, have voted against an unsafe currency is flimsy.  With their 'no,' the Swedes only confirmed what was also the reason for their euro-skeptical government policy in 1997:  Sweden wants to be a member of the EU, but the majority of Swedes has never arrived there....  With respect to the euro, one thing is also true for Sweden:  It is an illusion to think that the Swedish crown will remain 'independent.'  It is dependent on the decisions of the European Central Bank without it being influenced by a Swedish vote....  The Swedish decision has nothing to do with a European conscience, but with the conscience of being something peculiar in Europe.  The isolationist welfare state of Nordic characteristics still plays the decisive role....  For Europe, the 'no' of the Swedes is no more than a tiny step in the wrong direction.  For the North it is an enormous step backward.  Scandinavia and the Baltic states would play a much more important role in the EU if they were serious about a 'northern dimension.'...  But this dimension will not exist as long as Sweden as the core country in the North does not know to where it belongs."


"Persson's Failure"


Gerhard Fischer concluded in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/16):  "Prime Minister Persson made a few mistakes last year.  After the 2002 elections he appointed five ministers who were known for their rejection of the euro.  This may be an act of tolerance or an expression of a variety of opinions, but it was politically unwise.  During the euro campaign, the government did not show a uniform picture.  It did not offer orientation but confusion....  In the future, Sweden will be faced with more difficulties.  The exports to the eurozone will cross Europe. Swedish companies, which will have to calculate in their own currency, now need genius, patience, and luck in order to make a profit."


"Currency Stability A Must"


Center-right Stuttgarter Nachrichten opined (9/16):  "When will the governments in Paris and Berlin finally understand that the people can be convinced on a permanent basis of the use of the young currency only if stability remains the priority of currency policy?  First Denmark, now Sweden--and maybe Great Britain in the near future?  The anti-euro mood on the British isles is so bad that Tony Blair will not dare organize a referendum, at least not during this legislative term.  The 'no' from Stockholm is not an irreparable setback, but it is a serious warning.  Especially when Europe is involved, a wise policy must patiently try to convince the people--instead of imposing its will on them in a high-handed manner."


"No Reason To Panic"


Left-of-center Nuernberger Nachrichten had this to say (9/16):  "The naysayers are realistically wondering why they should exchange the reform successes for a bad situation in the euro-zone?  Why should they take part in unproductive debt that the EU core states such as France and Germany are accumulating?  The lax adherence to the stability criteria only intensified the general distrust.  This no reason to panic--Euroland will continue to exist.  But it is a shot across the EU's bow which also reveals some weakness in the persuasive work.  And it is now also likely that Britain and Denmark will postpone their referenda [on the euro] even more."


"An Emotional Vote"


Centrist Mitteldeutsche Zeitung of Halle remarked (9/16):  "More than 56 percent of Swedes rejected the introduction of the euro, but they did so not so much because they are afraid of the euro but because they feared the oppressive influence of the EU 'colossus.'  This concern creates emotions and pushes aside cool rationale.  For instance, the insight that the euro has by far a greater significance for Sweden, which is dependent on exports to the EU, than the Swedish crown that the Swedes have now defended so brazenly.  But because such facts never reach the Swedes' emotions, the outcome of the Swedish vote will have a direct effect on the policy of other member states.  Since the euro is not supposed to be only a currency but the most important integration 'staple' of a Europe that is growing together."


"An Embarrassing Defeat"


Right-of-center Frankfurter Neue Presse editorialized (9/16):  "The Swedish 'no' its not only an embarrassing defeat for the political and economic elite of the country.  It also indicates further difficulties for European integration.  The swift accession of economically strong states like Sweden or Great Britain would be important in order to be better prepared for the upcoming long-term integration of the Eastern European accession candidates.  In addition, the rejection from the North is a psychological poison for the controversial European Constitution, which must be approved by referenda in some countries."


ITALY:  "Sweden Opens The Indecipherable Crisis In Euroland"


Arturo Gismondi commented in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (9/17):  "Sweden's 'no' to the euro was sharper than anticipated....  Brussels is now preoccupied.  The 'no' from Stockholm comes a year after the 'no' from Denmark, which will return to the polls, but without too many illusions....  The reasons for the Swedish 'no' exacerbate the doubts circulating in many capitals and weigh more--in view of the symptoms of economic recovery in the U.S. and in Far East countries--as it becomes evident that Europe, for the restrictions imposed on its economy is presenting the most difficulties.  The story is only just beginning.  A doubt has arisen that something in Euroland must be revised; some rigidity may have to be loosened, if we don’t want to hinder the integration to which the great hope of our continent has been tied to since the latter half of the last century."


"Message To Brussels"


Sergio Romano, former ambassador, remarked in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/15):  "The victory of the 'no' vote in the Swedish referendum is important for all Europeans and will have repercussions on the future of the Union....  The Swedish 'no' demonstrates that the unified currency has not yet won the battle for its credibility....  But the Swedish vote also presents a certain advantage.  It weakens the risk of a Union in which there must co-exist two spirits: the supranational one of its founders and the federalism of many of the countries who entered the club after the success of the Treaty of Rome and the end of the Cold War....  We are saddened by the result from Stockholm, but it encourages us to think from now on to the day in which the more like-minded countries decide to go forward more rapidly than the others.  This is the solution of 'reinforced cooperation' envisioned in the Treaty of Nice...and is a reasonable response to the prospect of a Europe that risks losing, after its enlargement, its original nature."


"Fear Of Losing Their Identity"


Former ambassador Boris Bianchieri opined in influential, centrist La Stampa (9/15):  "Without a doubt, the Swedish 'no' will fall heavily on the project for a European constitution and the great unknown of the [EU's] enlargement....  The message from Estonia, where...a net majority prevailed in favor of joining Europe, has canceled out in part that which came from Stockholm.  But only in part.  The risk of a Europe divided in two, on one side a Europe intending voluntarily to advance forward, and on the other a skeptical Europe intending to remain behind, increased suddenly and strongly with the Swedish referendum."


BELGIUM:  "Sweden's 'No' Vote"


Chief commentator Paul Geudens wrote in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (9/16):  “The rest of Europe should draw lessons from the Swedish ‘No.’  The conclusion is that the EU is much less popular than its leaders like to pretend.  There is much more going on than a ‘communication problem’--as they claimed last Monday.  Do our leaders--all of them 1,000 percent pro-Europe--not understand that there is a lot of hostility to the almighty and money-wasting bureaucracy of officials in Brussels?  Imagine that a referendum were organized in our country--one of the most loyal supporters of Europe --about the so-much-praised enlargement of Europe.  I dare to claim that a majority would not say ‘Yes’ to the accession of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the others to the EU band of friends.  The European leaders should not underestimate that widespread skepticism.”


"Referendums And The EU"


Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert judged in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (9/16):  “The (Swedish) ‘No’ to the euro does not only show how deep the gap between ‘Brussels’ and the national populations is.  After the Swedish referendum, the old question is raised: would anything have become of the European Union if each common decision in each member state had been submitted to a referendum?  The euro would probably never have existed--as it was clear that the Germans felt little enthusiasm for dumping their strong Mark and replacing it by an uncertain European currency.”


"Setback For Europe"


EU affairs writer Kris Van Haver noted in financial daily De Financieel-Economische Tijd (9/16):  “Europe seems to have lost its ties with its citizens and its concrete ideals and policies.  The project that sparked enthusiasm in the early days in both Europe and elsewhere is now perceived as a steamroller and uncontrollable powerful apparatus.  In future referendums, it will be increasingly difficult for Europe to make itself understood and accepted by the citizens.  Therefore, it is really very much a pity that the concrete identification of the European project is hardly an issue when the European Constitution is written.  The government conference that is to finalize that Constitution threatens to become entangled in a traditional struggle for power among the member states--which the citizens hate and which makes the monster only bigger.  Big friendly giants only exist in fairy tales.  Bogeymen mostly owe their bad reputation to themselves.  Unfortunately, Europe is turning into a bogeyman.  The specter of a massive trashing of the European project by the Union’s citizens is looming disturbingly.”


DENMARK:  "Swedish No:  Bad Result--Democratic Victory"


Copenhagen's center-right Berlingske Tidende noted (Internet version) (9/15):  "The 'no' vote...on the euro was...the worst conceivable result for Sweden--without a doubt.  Nevertheless...the 'no' vote is an indication that, despite the tragic murder of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh last week, there was no problem carrying out the referendum....  However, the fact that democracy was able to withstand an attack such as the one last week does not make a 'no' vote a wiser solution for Sweden, which will have less influence on its own and on Europe's economic policy now than it would have had with a 'yes' vote and it will now take almost another decade before another referendum can be held.  The 'no' vote could also have noticeable consequences for Denmark.  A Danish referendum on the common currency was hardly moved closer by the Swedish people's decision....  If nothing else, one result of one of the most terrible weeks in recent Swedish history was that democracy proved it works."


"Swedish No"


The center-right daily Jyllands-Posten held (Internet version) (9/15):  "Swedes will keep the krona, having rejected the euro as their future currency....  Sweden followed Denmark in this, which is regrettable, not only for the two Nordic neighbors' economic future, but also and primarily for EU development and for the United Kingdom, which had looked forward to a Swedish yes, which...would have had a positive psychological effect on a British referendum....  The lack of enthusiasm for the euro stood in glaring contrast to the unreserved EU enthusiasm demonstrated by the Estonians in their referendum on EU membership....  Sweden is divided on the EU issue in a much different way than Denmark.  In Sweden, many parties are split right down the middle, and judging from the analyses produced so far and the opinion polls, it is established and well-off Sweden that voted yes, while less prosperous and average citizens voted no.  Unfortunately, it could prove problematic for the country that popular support for the EU is lacking to such a degree....


"Even though the euro lost, yesterday's referendum was a certain victory for Swedish democracy.  The tragic background [was] the murder of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh....  [The vote] is a clear signal that [Sweden] wants to regain the democratic self-confidence that it had already suffered greatly after the murder of Olof Palme 17 years ago....  Aside from this tragic event, conditions, especially for the pro-euro side, were the worst imaginable, considering that influential EU countries--France and Germany--were, at the same time, challenging current EMU budget regulations by breaking the rules and getting away with it....  This seriously weakens the issue's credibility.  The pro-EMU side had difficulty arguing convincingly in favor of the valuable effects of cooperation when violations of the rules had no consequences and there are no guarantees that member countries would comply with the rules that are supposed to ensure healthy economic equilibrium."


FINLAND:  "Sweden To Keep Its Kroner At Least 10 Years"


Leading centrist daily Helsingin Sanomat remarked (Internet version) (9/15):  "When all is said and done, the victory by the euro opponents was really quite decisive....  This was a severe political setback for the cabinet and for Prime Minister Persson personally....  The victory by opponents of the euro in Sweden is also a setback for the EU.  In Denmark, the other Nordic country that is outside the EMU, support for the euro had been rallying, but the outcome of the Swedish referendum may very well also have an impact in Denmark.  The Swedish outcome also means that Finland and Sweden will continue for another 10 years to follow different tracks in the EU.  As the only Nordic country using the euro, Finland of course has a certain, unique status thereby, but for the sake of Finnish-Swedish collaboration in all aspects, it would have been more important for both to belong to the EMU, and to have the same form of currency."


IRELAND:  "Sweden Says No To The Euro"


The center-left Irish Times editorialized (9/15):  “The murder of Ms. Anna Lindh has made little or no difference to the outcome of Sweden's referendum on the euro....  It is a tribute to Swedish democracy in extreme adversity, and must be fully respected there and in the rest of the European Union.  It will nevertheless have definite and regrettable consequences, whose lessons must be absorbed in coming months and years....  Controversy about French, German and Italian breaches of the Stability and Growth Pact overlapped with the Swedish referendum campaign.  This gave many voters the impression that the larger states can write the rules to suit themselves and reinforced their belief that Sweden's relative prosperity is better protected from outside the zone....  The single currency has been successfully introduced and is functioning well as a key player in the international economy.  Its design and optimal policy framework must be subject to continuing review, balanced against the need to ensure its stability and credibility.  These aspects need to be re-examined in the light of the current economic downturn....  The lesson from Sweden is that large states in economic difficulties cannot assume they can manipulate agreed and equitable rules at will.”


NORWAY:  "Swedish Protest Against The Elite"


Newspaper of record Aftenposten took this view (Internet version) (9/15):  "The victory for the side advocating a no vote...was not surprising....  Swedish voters have traditionally been far more inclined to vote the way their leaders have asked than Norwegian ones are.  Thus the national referendum was a break with a tradition.  Swedes used the vote to express a protest against large segments of their political elite.  The national referendum was held in a state of social emergency because of the brutal and tragic killing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.  All party leaders...agreed to hold the national referendum as planned....  Anything else would have been to allow democracy to suffer a defeat on account of violence.  That would have been far more serious....than losing the national referendum....  Speculations about how the killing of Lindh have affected the outcome of the referendum are useless.... 


"Nine years ago, when Sweden had much greater economic problems than she does today, many people allowed themselves to be convinced that the EU could contribute to providing greater security for the future.  This argument did not have similar weight this year, now that economic conditions are better.  And the average Swede is hardly particularly concerned that the country's connection to the EU could be viewed as a second-class membership, now that Sweden still has the krona as her currency instead of the euro....  The fact that Swedes have turned their back on the EU's currency cooperation is a defeat, in any event a temporary one, for thinking about European integration.  It is probable that Sweden's no will strengthen the opposition to introducing the euro in the two other EU countries that still have their own currencies, Great Britain and Denmark.  But at the same time, the outcome of yesterday's national referendum is a reminder that popular support for ambitious international cooperative projects is important but far from a given."


SPAIN:  "The 'No' Of Disenchantment"


Conservative Madrid daily ABC contended (Internet version) (9/15):  "Sweden's rejection of the euro, a tangible expression of a project under construction based on respect for shared rules, has psychological effects which are quite a bit more serious than its practical effects, because the EU membership of Sweden, which is complying with the convergence programme, and its participation in a shared project, are now irreversible.  But the 'no' vote acquires a political dimension because it is the most discouraging evidence of a lack of faith in a project based on rigour and discipline--the stability pact--recklessly called into question by the interests of Germany and France, which are increasingly uncomfortable in the suit they themselves designed.  Sweden said 'no' to the single currency, a rejection which, in passing, favours Great Britain's eurosceptic thinking."


"Sweden:  Fierce Blow To Persson And To Europe"


Independent El Mundo editorialized (Internet version) (9/15):  "Sweden said a firm 'no' to the euro...a fierce blow not only to the prime minister, Goran Persson, but also to European construction....  Thousands of Swedes blame Europe for the growing unemployment and for the lack of safety on their streets and they think that greater economic integration will worsen these ills.  They mistrust Brussels' red tape and do not want to lose sovereignty....  In contrast, the majority of the population of the big cities, the professional classes and the most dynamic sectors of Swedish society leaned towards a 'yes' vote, aware of the negative consequences which Sweden will probably have to pay for staying outside the euro.


"Goran Persson, whose government has a very precarious majority, was [the] big loser.  His political standing is almost exhausted....  It would not be surprising is yesterday's debacle forced the calling of early elections or, at least, a government reshuffle.  But the EU itself is harmed by this negative result since Sweden's 'no' highlights the unattractiveness of a project which political and economically is taking on water.  Added to the disunity displayed during the Iraq war we now have the sorry spectacle of France and Germany refusing to comply with the stability pact of which they were promoters.  In the face of this sad prospect, Sweden has opted to turn in on itself--an example which may be contagious for other countries where the European star has also started to fade."


"Revolt Of The Swedes"


Left-of-center El Pais observed (Internet version) (9/15):  "With a clear 'no' to the euro...the Swedes staged a revolt against their political and economic elite and against Europe....  It may not be 'no' for ever but it is for a long time....  The happiest person will be Blair.  A few months ago he would have preferred a victory for the 'yes' vote in Sweden because it would have helped change British public opinion, overwhelmingly opposed to the euro.  But with the internal problems caused by the Iraq war, the plan for a British referendum on the euro has been shelved.  And if it is staying out, it is better for it to be in the company of Sweden.  And of Denmark, a country which will also now find it harder to join a euro which would have benefited from this addition and from spreading to the whole EU.  Sweden's 'no' may accelerate the trends towards a Europe of several speeds, with France and Germany in the middle.  The victory of the Swedish revolt augurs further difficulties in European integration, especially if there are widespread referendums to approve the constitution of the Union which the conference of government will begin negotiating in October."




SAUDI ARABIA:  "Blow To European Project"


Jeddah's English-language Arab News commented (Internet version) (9/16):  "The effect of the Swedish vote on the euro itself and the 12 EU states that have adopted it will be depressing....  Euroland continues to wallow in economic problems while both the Swedish and UK economies are performing well.  Worse, while both Germany and France seem likely to break the rules of the Stability Pact upon which the currency was founded, the French government seems determined to use what it believes are loopholes, not only to allow it to increase its budget deficit above the three percent limit but also to cut taxes next year....  The time may not be far off when the international money markets begin to punish the euro for its inconsistencies and contradictions....


"At the heart of the whole euro issue is the faith that the 300 million Europeans who must use it have in the currency....  It also represents a key step along the path toward a unified European superstate.  Though accepting the principle of political union, many EU citizens are unhappy about the timing.  Yet euro-enthusiasts are still driving the unification issue at a pace, which threatens to wreck their ambitions because they are not carrying the man in the street with them.  In pure economic terms, the euro could have come about as a monetization of the old ecu....  Instead visionaries forced it through as a political step toward a truly united Europe.  Unfortunately it is not yet a vision shared by the majority of Europeans.  Yet the politicians continue to try browbeating their people into accepting the vision now."




THAILAND:  "Sweden Gives The Euro The Brush-Off"


The lead editorial in the independent, English language The Nation read (9/17):  “Sweden’s crushing rejection of the euro over the weekend should serve as a wake-up call for the big euro-zone countries at a time when much of the continent is mired in economic gloom and disagreement over budget rules....  The overwhelming ‘no’ in Sweden on Sunday...has only served to underscore the growing disquiet about the way the euro zone manages its business....  Apart from highlighting the lack of attractiveness of the EU economy, the Swedish referendum has bolstered euro-skeptics in other states, notably Britain and Denmark, the only other two EU countries which remain outside the euro zone....  To get its dream back on track, the euro-zone countries urgently need to find a consensus to encourage economic recovery.  That means overcoming divisions on the Stability and Growth Pact, and putting in place a positive strategy for reform and modernization, particularly of the agricultural sector.  As long as the euro zone’s economic performance is so bleak, no one is going to be keen to join.”


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