Euro vote: Views from the European press

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The Independent Online

"A resounding slap round the head" is how Sydsvenska Dagbladet, the Malmo-based broadsheet, sums up the size of the "no" vote in Sunday's referendum. Goran Persson's government has been dealt a "stinging defeat", after "fumbling to find a coherent message. The voters have revolted. The air must be cleared," it declares, perhaps preparing the ground for what it sees as "the only reasonable course" to follow - "a new election".

Meanwhile, the Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet describes how the question of joining the euro "splits the labour movement" and criticises the lack of "debates, popular education and majority decisions" that it says would have lessened the damaging "conflict" of the vote. It notes that conflicting messages were put out by Mr Persson's Social Democratic Party, after their emblem appeared on both the "yes" and "no" posters during the campaign. This, the paper concludes, was bad for both the party and parliamentary democracy.

Across the icy waters in Norway, Aftenposten sets the result in the light of a "protest against the elite" and sees lessons in it for Denmark and Britain. In Denmark, the Berlingske Tidende calls the vote "the worst conceivable result for Sweden". It finds some solace, however, in the fact that "if nothing else, one of the most awful weeks in recent Swedish history has shown that democracy works", a point its rival the Information is in complete agreement with, setting the result and the high turnout as "strong evidence of a common will to support Swedish democracy against insane violent attacks".

France's centre-right paper Le Figaro sounds a warning note about "the gulf which separates citizens from the politicians and intellectuals when it comes to giving up elements of national sovereignty for the profit of the European community".

"Nej!" is the simpler conclusion from the headline of its left-leaning rival Liberation

Perhaps the most pragmatic point comes from Poland, a country that is to join the EU in 2004, and its major broadsheet Rzeczpospolita. "Most of the continent's inhabitants do not instinctively feel themselves to be Europeans. People only become Europeans when they feel measurable benefits," it says.

For the German press the result appears to represent a lack of conviction.

"They [the Swedes] did not realise that it is an illusion to believe in the status quo in the age of globalisation," the Frankfurter Rundschau argues, while for the Goteborgs-Posten the issue is one that "a new parliament should be free to raise ... in the next parliamentary elections".

Hugh Macleod and Michael Bickett

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