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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