Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Why Sweden Really Voted Against the Euro

In the fall of 2003, Sweden voted on whether or not they would start using the Euro instead of the Swedish Krona, affectionately known on the international level as SEK. I found myself in Uppsala during the campaign and was constantly bombarded with people in vote yes and vote no pins coming up to me. I usually just pulled the English out and went on my way, similar to my charity strategy. I wasn’t interested in getting involved. And I wasn’t really planning on voting, despite having the right to.

It seemed strange to vote on something when I was only planning on being in the country for a short amount of time. That being said, I will be voting in November, because let’s face it, who becomes President of the US has a bit more impact on the rest of the world than whether or not Sweden is on the Euro. But I digress.

Despite being in the EU, Sweden did not use the Euro. So it was up to the Swedish people to decide. Democracy was in action. Various economic reasons were given, the impact the Euro would have on Sweden, and on the European Union. Of course, there was also a little bit of Swedish pride involved. Keep that Swedish currency around. In a hard fought battle the No side won. About 56% of those who voted decided that Sweden should keep the Swedish Krona.

So Sweden was without the Euro. And it was decided that nothing would be done until 2010. No new votes, nothing of the sort. Something to do with some sort of governmental term ending. Fair enough, if they voted no, there’s no need to push the issue just a couple of years later.

I tell you all of this because yesterday I found myself on a bus in southern Sweden. Heading to Landskrona of all places. And behind me were four gentlemen. Maybe early to mid- 30s. Seemed like friendly fellas. Talking with each other, giving each other a hard time, generally enjoying each other’s company. I was one seat in front of them reading a book. And was struggling to concentrate because I have grown accustomed to silence on all forms of public transportation in Sweden. From what I heard while eavesdropping they seemed like halfway intelligent people.

Anyway, it turns out one of the guys had just returned from Europe. I can’t remember which country he had visited. But he had some Euro bills in his wallet as he was fishing for his bus card. In passing, he told his friends that the bills looked like “djävla låtsaspengar.” Essentially, damn play money. He went on to say that, if for no other reason, he was glad he voted against the Euro because of the way it looked.

Because of the economic impact? Because of national pride? No. Clearly, voting against the Euro was based solely on design.

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  1. Varför stannar du här i Sverige när det verkar som att du inte gillar det???

  2. no no... I quite like Sweden. I just write with a bit of sarcasm I suppose. and come on... it was kind of a ridiculous situation.

  3. I agree, you don't want to use money that looks fake =). Now I'm curious to see what the Euro looks like- will have to google it.
    But I do think it's kind of weird that a lot of European countries switched to the Euro. At least the krona differentiates Sweden from the rest of Europe.

    Who are you voting for in November? I am voting for Obama.

  4. it's true, the krona keeps sweden a little swedish. but with all kinds of countries switching over to the euro it has strengthened the european union and the euro.

    well... lets say that Im not voting for obama.

  5. You know those quarters we've got in the U.S. with the pretty etching of the various states iconic images on the back? Yesterday my wife got a full color one back in change. that's right, full 4-color-process glory. Talk about ridiculous looking money...

  6. I like the danish coin - you know the one with a whole in the middle.
    Hong Kong bills look weird too, they are really tiny and pink. The Croatian kuna has animals on them? instead of royalties and famous people. Anyway, the euro does look a bit like fake money, as if they were taken from a monopoly game.

    American politics makes me uncomfortable.. I think it's kind of scary with their speeches and the convents with 10 000 of brainwashed.. I don't know.
    Mckain is definately more creepy than Obama, even though I don't really care.

  7. @john - they make colored quarters now? are they in regular circulation or is this some sort of weird promotion?

    @freja - I like the danish coin also. reminds me of something old for some reason. like you could string it up and keep it with you. who needs a wallet when youve got your coins on a string?

  8. we'll be moving to sweden soon and wished they had voted for EUROS so that we can earn a more common (to use in more places without exchange rate loss) currency than SEK.

    i guess many swedish who were against EUROS was afraid their pay may remain more or less the same while things became more expensive like what happened in germany when they convertered to euros.


  9. its true, had they converted to the Euro, life would have been much easier in regards to exchange rates and such. a good point.


  11. I actually just saw the headline to that article this morning but didnt even think twice about reading it. thats pretty crazy though. I love that Höganäs is trying to play itself up as a tourist town.

    its interesting when this sort of thing happens. I believe something similar happened in a southern texas town that began accepting the peso and the dollar.

  12. Seeing euros as ridiculous play money just defines Swedish attitude against foreign matters. I must admit that after I had had a break of not seen any euros for six months, they began to look like unreal to me too. So in that sense I understand, but still... I blamed myself, not the currency.

    When euros were introduced to the Finns, I was voting yes. I wanted to have the same currency as Sweden and the UK. But what happened: the Swedes and the Brits still have their own currency. Had I a chance to vote for a Finnish mark again, I'd skip euro too. It's a kind of 'all or nothing' thing to me.

  13. it does look a bit like play money. agreed. I just love that these guys said that was enough to vote against it, granted, they were kidding around, but still. it made me laugh.

    it will be interesting to see if the swedes vote for it next time around.