Socialist Worker

'Are we an unruly people?' They are about to find out!

by Asa Hjalmers and Sean Pook in Sweden
Issue No. 1869

'A DEVASTATING defeat for the political and economic elite.' That's how a TV commentator referred to the result of the referendum on joining the euro single currency in Sweden on Sunday. The vote was tipped to be close, following the murder of the foreign minister Anna Lindh last week. Lindh was pro-euro and commentators expected sympathy for her would shift votes to the yes camp. But the no side won a clear victory, with 56.1 percent against 41.8 percent. This is the first time that people have voted against the ruling elite here.

The outcome was even more remarkable when you consider that virtually the entire political establishment and the media backed the yes camp. It was clearly a vote along class lines. Almost two thirds of trade union members voted no despite the majority of the union leaders being very close to the pro-euro Social Democrat government. Our victory should show people in Britain that you can have a left wing opposition and campaign against the euro too.

The yes campaign in Sweden was seen by ordinary people as the campaign of the elite. An overwhelming majority of first-time voters and young women voted no. They saw the plan to join the euro as part of an attack on welfare. Sweden used to be regarded as a model of prosperity and welfare provision.

The media talk of Sweden as one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. But the reality, as people here know, is that Sweden has the fastest growing income gap between rich and poor in Europe. The vote against the euro also shows that the mood among young people seen on the demonstrations in Sweden against the European Union summit in Gothenburg two years ago has not gone away.

Young people in Sweden as elsewhere do not believe in, or feel represented by, the system. The commentator on Sunday finished off with the question, 'Are we an unruly people?' They are about to find out!

Get on Board

Train to the European Social Forum

Trade unionists, activists, and people opposed to corporate globalisation and war from across Europe will all be gathering at the European Social Forum (ESF) in Paris in November. Be there!

A special train is leaving London on Wednesday 12 November, returning Sunday 16 November. Prices include registration to the ESF and sleeping bag accommodation, and range from £84 to £125 depending on income. Full details phone 020 7053 2072 or go to

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Article information

Sat 20 Sep 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1869
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