I - Political context

Political change     
What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in Sweden? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?

The government is made up of a centre right-wing coalition. It consists of four political parties: Moderate Party (Moderaterna), Centre Party (Centerpartiet), Liberal People’s Party (Folkpartiet), and Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna). The opposition consists of the centre-left Swedish Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokraterna), Green Party (Miljöpartiet), Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), and the far-right Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna).

General elections are held every four years, most recently in September 2010, when the centre right-wing coalition was re-elected. In 2010, the Sweden Democrats, a far-right, anti-immigration party, got elected into the Swedish Parliament. In May 2013, some Stockholm suburbs with a heavy immigrant population suffered from riots. While the Government portrayed these riots as the work of a few hundred ‘hooligans’, the centre-left Social Democrats (Sweden’s biggest party) argued that the riots were a question of class and not of immigration. However, in the case of Sweden, these two events can hardly be explained by the Euro-crisis; there are rather other socio-economic explanations to be found. For many reasons, Sweden has not suffered badly by the euro crisis. Sweden suffered by the 2008 global crisis, but recovered soon. The GDP growth was negative throughout 2009, but the Swedish economy had stabilised. In the recession, the Swedish currency weakened, but recovered soon.

In 2003, Sweden held a referendum on the euro. The question was: are you of the view that Sweden should introduce the euro as currency?” 55.9 % voted against and 42 % in favour.[1] The referendum was only legally non-binding, but the Riksdag decided that Sweden would not adopt the euro for the time being. In the campaign, three political parties in the Parliament were in favour of the euro: Moderaterna, Folkpartiet, and Kristdemokraterna. The centre-left Social Democrats were split. In the recent years, and as a result of the Euro crisis, these parties have introduced more cautious declarations in their party programmes on the euro. No political party is of the opinion that Sweden should join the Euro today. Folkpartiet is the most euro-friendly party, but in the recent two years, it appears split.

For the period 2003 to 2007, the public support to join the euro was steadily negative.[2] In 2009, the public opinion was for the first time in favour of the euro (a poll showed that 47 % were in favour and 42 % against). The reason is likely that the Swedish Krona had been weakened against the Euro. A few months later, when the Krona strengthened, the public opinion changed again. In the beginning of 2010, the public opinion was strongly negative. A poll in June 2010 showed that 61 % were against the Euro and only 24 % in favour. In another poll in December 2011, 87,6 % were against and 9,7 % in favour.

[1] The turn-out was 82,6 %. For an economic analysis of the referendum, see Lars Jonung and Jonas Vlachos, “The Euro – What´s in it for me? An Economic Analysis of the Swedish Euro Referendum 2003,” Sieps 2007:2, available at http://www.sieps.se/sv/publikationer/the-euro-whats-in-it-for-me-an-economic-analysis-of-the-swedish-euro-referendum-2003-20072

[2] Interestingly, during the same period, the public opinion to the EU increased. See Sören Holmberg, “Ökat opinionsstöd för EU,” Sieps, 2008:5epa.