Wednesday, January 18, 2006


In polls on EU-politics the phrasing of the question can have a tremendous effect on the outcome. Recently the Eurobarometer found that 38% of the Finns considered EU-membership a good thing, while only 22% considered it bad. On the face of it, that seems pretty conclusive. But another poll at the same time found that the Finns would have voted no in a referendum on EU-membership and that only 44% would have voted yes.

I believe this shows that the Eurobarometer underestimates the negative feelings towards the EU in Finland, but also that a large part of the Eurosceptic majority showed in the survey is rather shallow.

The Eurobarometer (EB) is hardly as trustworthy as Statistics Sweden - some questions are obviously biased - but it's still worth reading, mainly because there are several differently worded questions which allows us to get better view on the subject than other polls that only ask a single question.

I've studied the latest EB-results and found some interesting results.

Question: Is EU-membership a good thing?
To this 39% of Swedes answered Yes. This is down from 44% in the spring. Unfortunately only 32% say it's a bad thing. But this is only the hard-core of Euroscepticism.

There are many countries in which fewer people consider EU-membership a good thing (Finland 38%, Austria 32%, UK 34%, Cyprus 36%), but there is no place in the EU that can meassure up to our strong 32% who are willing to say that EU-menbership is a bad thing. (UK comes in second with their 28%.) The name of this blog: Eurosceptic Sweden, is validated once more.

Question: Has (YOUR COUNTRY) benefitted from EU-membership?
On this question only 32% answered Yes. This is pretty good and it's down by 4% since last time. I believe it's interesting to compare this result with the 39% who thought membership them a good thing. I wonder if the difference between them represents a section of the electorate whose EU-postive views are quite soft and open to change?

But the real news are to be found on the other side of this question - no less than 56% of Swedes are of the opinion that Sweden has not benefited from the EU. This is significant. Public opinion in Sweden doesn't think that the EU is a great benefit - most Swedes who are not Eurosceptics consider it a marginal issue - so whenever a Europhile get upset about our withdrawalist heresies in a public debate he is certain to loose. (Note to self: Don't wait for them to be provoked next time. Bring it on!)

Sweden is not the only country whose citicens consider that the EU hasn't benefitted them. In the UK the balande is 37%-47%, in Austria 35%-48%, and in Finland the balance is 45%-47%, which by the way is much more in tune with the poll I cited earlier. I'm also a bit surprised by the results from Cyprus - 39% in favour outnumbered by 53% who think the country hasn't benefitted. Cyprus is not know to me as a strongly Eurosceptic country and I wonder what might be behind this.

Sweden is no longer so fervently in favour of enlargement as we once were. According to the new figures 48% are in favour, and 46% are against. Still this marks us out as one of the most enlargement-friendly nations in the EU. Swedish Euroscepticism is definitely not due to xenophobia. When it comes to the hottest question - should Turkey be allowed to join? - Swedes are the second most positive of all nations in the EU. The Cypriots are the only one's who are even more favourably disposed to Turkish membership than us, and considering their situation that is no big surprise.

Personally I'm strongly in favour of an enlargement with Turkey. The EU will never be able to swallow it, and it might block the developement to a federal superstate for a very long time. I think Giscard d'Estaign and his ilk are right to be worried.

There's more in the Eurobarometer, but this is enough blogging for tonight.