Swedish PM upbeat although euro foes keep lead
Two polls yesterday showed opponents of Sweden joining the euro holding a double-digit lead before next month's vote on the issue, but the country's top "Yes" campaigner, the prime minister, refused to give up.
"I am optimistic and we have a good chance," said Prime Minister Goran Persson.
Polls would begin to reflect public opinion accurately only about one week before the September 14 referendum, Persson said.
A Gallup poll suggested that the "No" side's lead has widened to 15 per centage points from 12 points in the previous Gallup poll published on August 21.
But a Demoskop survey based on a larger sample and a longer polling period indicated that the euro-sceptics' advantage had narrowed to 11 points from 14 points.
Several recent polls have showed diverging trends and political scientists say public opinion in Sweden towards the European Union's most ambitious integration project to date remains fickle.
"As we come closer to the referendum day, more voters will take an interest and many will reconsider their position," Demoskop's Managing Director Markus Uvell said.
Demoskop said 37 per cent of the undecided were leaning towards a "No" while 29 per cent were more inclined to say "Yes".
"Those who support euro membership have a mountain to climb," said 4CAST analyst Henrik Gullberg.
Analysts say the outcome of the referendum may have some impact on sentiment towards the single currency in fellow euro outsiders Britain and Denmark.
The effects on the economy of joining the euro and handing over authority to set rates to the European Central Bank from the Swedish Riksbank, has been a key campaign theme.
Riksbank Deputy Governor Kristina Persson added her voice to the "Yes" campaign, saying yesterday that growth would suffer if Swedes rejected the euro.
"It is likely that it would have a negative impact on investment and growth," said Kristina Persson, who is not related to the prime minister. "An adoption of the euro would result in more extensive trade, which in turn should lead to higher economic growth," she said.
The Riksbank as an institution plays no part in the campaign but the bank's six executive board members are at liberty to express their personal opinions.
Euro opponents say jobs, especially in the tax-financed public sector, would come under threat if Sweden joined the single currency, which they see as one step on a path leading to the creation of a European superstate run by unaccountable bureaucrats in far-away Brussels and Frankfurt.
Gallup's August 18-21 survey of 1,009 people gave opponents 49 per cent against 34 per cent for those who want Sweden to introduce the euro while 17 per cent were undecided.
In the previous Gallup poll on August 21, the "No" side led by 47-35 per cent with 18 per cent yet to make up their mind.
Demoskop's August 12-24 poll of 1,848 people gave the "No" side 45 per cent support against 34 per cent for the "Yes" side. The rest, 20 per cent, were undecided. In the previous Demoskop survey published on August 6, opponents led by 47-33 per cent with 20 per cent undecided.