Swedes blame Brussels for the hard times
Mats Wiklund reports from a nation of Euro-sceptics
Tuesday 04 February 1997
On the political level, the governing Social Democrats are struggling to contain a strong anti-EU minority in the party while at the same time keeping all options open. The Prime Minister, Goran Persson, is thought to be in favour of joining the single currency - as is his Secretary of Finance, Erik Asbrink. So far Mr Persson and Mr Asbrink have decided to keep their views to themselves. But they will soon have to make up their minds. The future of Emu is to be decided by a party conference in the autumn.
As things stand at the moment, the Prime Minister faces a hard task should he decide to argue for Swedish membership of Economic and Monetary Union (Emu). Already one member of his cabinet has openly come out against monetary union; many party activists feel very negative about the EU in general and about Emu in particular.
And why? The obvious response is that the debate over Europe and Sweden's role in it began at a very bad time. The past five years have seen great changes in the Swedish economy and welfare system. In the early 1990s unemployment rocketed and benefits were slashed while the establishment tried to convey the message that thecountry's future depended on EU membership.
It succeeded, but at a high price. The yes-vote in the 1994 referendum on membership won by a narrow margin. The Social Democrats split over the issue and the party has yet to recover.
Since then unemployment has grown and the strains on a society built on the premise of pragmatism and cohesion are showing. Meanwhile, the former Communist party, Vansterpartiet, has recruited a large number of disaffected Social Democrats; it is now the third largest political party in Sweden. A substantial part of their success can be attributed to a strong, populist stance against Europe. Only the Conservatives and the Liberals are fully in favour of Emu. It seems most likely that Sweden will not join monetary union in 1999, though it will probably meet the Maastricht criteria.
As in London, the government in Stockholm is also trying to have it both ways, balancing the national interest against the party interest. For the moment, as in Great Britain, they are not always compatible. Mr Persson, however, is likely to be in a better position to do this than is Mr Major. Swedes go to the polls in September 1998; the moment of truth has not arrived.
- 1 Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Royal baby: Live updates as the wait continues for Duchess of Cambridge's second child
Hermann Goering's daughter fails to reclaim items looted by Nazi deputy during WWII
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...
Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...