Alliance rejects Liberal calls for euro vote

Sweden should hold another referendum on introducing the euro, leading members of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet), have said. But colleagues from other parties in the centre-right ruling coalition have already rejected the idea.

Alliance rejects Liberal calls for euro vote
Photo: Hans Doverholm

The Liberal Party’s board is to put the idea to members at next month’s party conference. The proposal to scrap the krona and replace it with the euro was last put to the public in 2003. The idea was rejected by 56.1 percent of voters.

Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund gave an icy response to the Liberal suggestion:

“We see no reason to bring up this question, at least during this parliament. We stand by what we said to voters before the election,” said Hägglund, who is also social affairs minister.

Among Liberals calling for another referendum is Europe Minister Cecilia Malmström.

“We respect the result of the referendum, of course, but still thing that one should be able to argue for something one believes in,” she said.

Asked by a reporter from news agency TT what she made of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s promise that there would be no referendum during the current parliament or possibly the next one, Malmström said:

“I have only heard that it is not on the agenda for this parliament.”

Malmström insisted that a lot had changed since the 2003 referendum, adding that further changes could bring about shifts in public opinion.

“Slovenia has joined, Malta and Cyprus are joining at the beginning of next year. Next year, at least two Baltic countries will join. In 2010-11 there could be eight or nine new members. The more members there are, the greater the political price of being outside, because we can’t make a difference,” she said.

Malmström said that Sweden had lost out economically by not joining the single European currency. She cited a report from the National Board of Trade:

“We have lost 100 billion kronor in exports and the same amount in imports. Our trade with the eurozone would have been 13-14 percent greater if we had been members.”

The Centre Party, which was the only centre-right party to campaign against membership, shares the Christian Democrats’ opposition to reopening the question.

“Discussing the euro question is allowed, of course, but as far as we’re concerned there is no reason to tear up the result of a referendum held as recently as 2003. That result stands,” said Centre Party secretary Anders Flanking.

The Christian Democrats’ Göran Hägglund left open the possibility of a further referendum after the next election.

“The party will have to think about that before the next parliament – whether we want to keep it open or say again that the question should not be raised during the 2010-2014 parliament,” he said.

A poll taken by Statistics Sweden (SCB) in May this year showed Swedes still opposed to euro membership. 53.8 percent said they would vote no, while 33.3 percent said they would vote yes.