Country profile: Sweden

Transatlantic Relationship and Global Views

  • While many in Europe had mixed feelings with regard to their own governments’ handling of international policies, Swedish respondents had a more favorable view of their domestic government with 70% approving.
  • International favorability of the United States remained relatively stable, however positive opinion of the U.S. decreased in a few countries including Sweden (from 67% to 57%).
  • In Europe, 69% of respondents approved of Obama’s international policies while 21% disapproved; Sweden ranked among the highest disapproval ratings with 27%.
  •  Overall, Europeans retained the belief that relations with America takes precedent over Asia: 64% of Europeans described the United States as more important, while 27%, including 37% of Swedish respondents, described Asia as more important.
  • While responses varied within Europe on whether China posed an economic threat or opportunity, Sweden was among the latter camp with 60% of respondents in Sweden describing China as more of an economic opportunity.
  • Most countries polled had generally negative views of Russia; however Sweden was most likely to view Russia unfavorably (76%). Only 28% of respondents in the EU expressed favorable feelings about Russia, while 62% expressed unfavorable feelings.
  • Swedish respondents (71%) were among the most optimistic in Europe about potential opportunities for economic cooperation with rising non-Western powers like India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

Economic Crisis, Europe, and Trade

  • A majority of American respondents (58%) supported government spending cuts to reduce debt; a plurality of Europeans (45%) agreed. Within Sweden however, a plurality (47%) wanted to maintain current spending.
  • Increasing majorities in both the U.S. (64%) and the EU (62%) disapproved of their governments’ handling of economic policy. Even in Sweden, one of two countries where majorities approved, rates dropped sharply by 15 points in 2012 to 74%.
  • When asked if they had been personally affected by the economic crisis, Swedish respondents (70%) were most likely to say that they had not really been affected or not affected at all, despite Europeans and Americans overwhelmingly reporting that they had been affected.
  • While Europeans had mixed feelings about how the EU handled the economic crisis, they were generally more confident in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership including broad majorities in Sweden (59%).
  • Despite 57% of European respondents saying that EU membership had been good for their economy overall, Sweden diverged from the average with 48% of Swedish respondents believing that EU membership has been beneficial. In addition, 81% of Swedish respondents replied that if they adopted the euro, it would be bad for their economy.
  • Very few respondents believed that the EU should have more authority over member states’ budgetary and economic policy, including 81% of Swedish respondents who were in favor of retaining economic sovereignty.

Transatlantic Security

  • Asked whether they approved of unmanned aircraft (drones) being used more extensively to find and kill suspected enemies in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, 53% of Europeans disapproved including 63% in Sweden.
  • Approval for increasing defense spending was highest in Sweden (29%) in contrast with broader Europe (14%).
  • When asked to choose between stability and democracy for countries in the MENA region, a majority in Europe (58%) and a plurality in the U.S. (47%) preferred democracy over stability; with highest approval in Sweden (73%).
  • Despite a 13 point drop from 2012, 31% of Swedish respondents still believe they should intervene in Syria.
  • Transatlantic opinions about how best to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have converged. A plurality of Americans (29%) preferred imposing economic sanctions. A plurality of Europeans (32%, up four points) agreed—in a shift from previous years, where Europeans had tended to prefer offering economic incentives instead. Neither Americans (8%, down 17 percentage points since 2010) nor Europeans (stable at 11 % since 2010) wished to offer support to opponents of the Iranian government within Iran. However, Swedish respondents (23%) were most keen on this option.
  • Very few Europeans and Americans favored military action to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program when given a broad choice of options, but, as with Iran, when asked to imagine that all non–military options had been exhausted, respondents provided different responses. Sweden was among the countries where the option of accepting a nuclear North Korea if military action met with most favor with 48% in support of this choice (35% of the total sample.

Mobility, Migration, and Integration

  • When asked whether respondents consider immigration to be more of a problem or an opportunity for their country, 44% of Europeans saw immigration as more of a problem, with 41% seeing it as an opportunity. Respondents in Sweden however, were most likely to see immigration as an opportunity with 68% sharing that viewpoint.
  • Swedish respondents ranked highest when asked whether they were worried about legal immigration, with 78% saying they were not worried and 39% responded that they were not worried about illegal immigration.
  • While majorities in Europe responded that first and second generation immigrants were integrating well (52% and 59% respectively), Sweden disagreed — saying that they believed first generation immigrants (61%) and second generation immigrants (43%) were integrating poorly.
  • In Europe, concern with government management of immigration registered most highly in Italy (83%), Spain (74%, up nine points from 2011), the United Kingdom (72%), Sweden (64%), France (59%, but down seven points from 2011), and the Netherlands (54%).
  • When asked whether “immigrants take jobs away from native born” citizens of their country, a majority in Europe (62%) disagreed, with Sweden among the strongest in disagreement with 77%. Sweden was also among the highest in disagreement when asked whether “immigrants are a burden on social services” with 51% disagreeing.
  • Swedish respondents registered among the strongest in agreement that “immigrants generally help to fill jobs where there are shortages of workers” and that “immigrants help create jobs as they set up new businesses” with 74% in agreement for each question respectively.
  • When asked whether “immigrants enrich our culture,” two-thirds majorities in the United States (69%) and Europe (60%) said that they do, with agreement highest in Sweden (82%).
  • Asked whether emigration was a problem for their country, two-thirds of American respondents said it was not, whereas 57% of Europeans said it was. Contrary to the broader European trend, respondents in the Netherlands (86%), Sweden (77%) and Germany (68%) were most likely to say that emigration was not a problem for their country.