Swedes back alcohol monopoly

Love it, hate it, or love to hate it, Sweden’s famed alcohol retail monopoly often divides opinion among the Swedes. But over half of those questioned in a new survey say they want Systembolaget to stay.

According to Thursday’s Svenska Dagbladet, 55 per cent of Swedes are in favour of the monopoly, 35 per cent want rid of it while 10 per cent are undecided.

The survey questioned 1,000 Swedes and was commissioned by the Swedish Spirits & Wine Suppliers.

The poll was conducted just before the government’s alcohol “investigator” Kent Härstedt recently announced a proposal to lower taxes on beer and wine and raise the age limit to 20 for drinking in bars and buying low alcohol beer in shops.

Unsurprisingly, the 18-20 year old are the biggest opponents to Systembolaget’s survival alongside Stockholmers and those living in southern Sweden.

Politically, the bunch of figures paraded by the papers shows a predictable split between the parties. Systembolaget has sturdy support from the Left Party which tops the poll at 76 per cent.

They are closely followed by the Centre Party (72 per cent) and the Christian Democrats and Green Party (69 per cent) in favour. Sixty per cent of the Social Democrats support the monopoly whilst only 45 per cent of the Moderates and Folkpartiet want it to stay.

Meanwhile, as Dagens Industri reported on Thursday a complimentary study by The Swedish Research Institute of Trade reveals that a swift reduction in alcohol tax is needed to lure consumers back to Systembolaget.

According to the study, the rise in price differences between alcohol bought in Sweden and abroad has lead to big changes in consumer behaviour.

In the last year alone, close to 20 per cent of Swedes have established new alcohol habits, largely in the form of bulk buying abroad.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Dagens Industri