Swedish elections: Persson’s victory opens path to euro

The Swedish elections of 15 September ended in a surprising victory for the governing leftist bloc of Prime Minister Goran Persson.

The campaign had centered around immigration issues and the country's welfare system. Opinion polls had given the social-democrats much less.

Sweden is one of three EU countries currently outside the European Monetary Union. Denmark and the UK are the other two. During the next year, Sweden is likely to pass a referendum on the euro. A date could be set this autumn.

The Social Democrats got 39.9 per cent of the votes and will probably form a minority government with the former communist party (8.3 per cent) and the Green Party (4.5 per cent). The conservative-led opposition received 43.7 per cent of the votes, after 99.9 percent of the results were counted. The Liberal Party, which nearly trebled its share of the vote by making immigration and the integration of foreigners a central campaign theme, received about 13 per cent of the votes. The main centre-right Moderates got 14.7 per cent, coming close to losing its position as the standard bearer of the right, in its worst performance since 1973.

The victory of Mr Persson's Social Democrats and his left-wing allies marked the end of a string of victories across Europe for centre-right parties. Next week Germany could similarly stay on the left if incumbent Schroeder wins the elections. A similar move back to the left can also be expected in the early Austrian elections next month.

Commenting on the outcome of the election, Mr Staffan Jerneck, Deputy Director and Director Corporate Relations of theCentre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), stated: "The Swedish referendum on the EMU will most porbably take place in the autumn of 2003 - one year from now. Sweden will have another summer when travelling in Europe and receiving tourists in Sweden, to get acquainted with the euro. This timing will hopefully facilitate the objective of a yes to the EMU in the referendum". Mr Jerneck added that with this victory Mr Persson has "increased his share of the votes by some 10 per cent compared to the last elections. Being reelected has probably strengthened his position amongst his EU colleagues".


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