Swedes reject euro in emotional campaign

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Swedes rejected adopting the European common currency in a Sunday referendum overshadowed by the killing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, an ardent euro supporter, days earlier.

The Swedish rejection of the euro is a blow to the common currency and European integration. It also provides a boost for euro opponents in Britain and Denmark, which still use their own currencies.

Denmark rejected the euro in a 2000 referendum. Britain has not decided whether to let voters decide the issue.

Prime Minister Goeran Persson said late Sunday that voters rejected replacing the current Swedish currency, the krona, with the euro.

Results from 97 percent of the Scandinavian country's 5,967 precincts showed that 56.3 percent of voters rejected the euro, while 41.7 percent supported it. Two percent cast undecided ballots.

More than 5.4 million ballots were cast.

"I think we read the opinion polls too optimistically," Persson said. "I can only establish that we have an election result that is very clear and a turnout that is very high."

The results countered some analysts' predictions that the stabbing death of Lindh would emotionally sway voters to adopt the currency used by 12 of the 15 European Union members.

"We have evidently not been able to firmly establish the European idea among the voters," said Alf Svensson, leader of the Christian Democrats and a euro supporter.

"We have not been able with enough fervor to convey that we really live in a new Europe. People still seem to believe that we live in a Europe with national borders and national currency, but the reality is something else."

Many Swedes argued that adopting the euro would put their cradle-to-grave welfare state too much under the control of the rest of Europe.

, with its economic and sometimes political turmoil.

Left party leader Ulla Hoffmann, who opposed adopting the euro, said "democracy comes from below and not from above. I think this will be an important signal to Europe that EU must democratize."

But some said they were swayed by Lindh's death.

Hassim Hafkin, 36, a trash collector in Malmoe, 382 miles southwest of Stockholm, said the tragedy changed his mind.

"I don't really know why I changed it to 'yes,"' he said of his vote. "Maybe I felt sorry."

More than 7 million Swedes were eligible to vote in the referendum, and election officials said the number of people who voted by mail was 1.7 million, a new record.

The eligible voters also included foreign citizens who have lived in the country for at least three years, EU citizens registered to live in the country and Swedes living abroad -- a combined 429,000 people.

No minimum voter turnout was required.