Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Some Swedish opinion polls on the monarchy

Great royal occasions nearly always result in various opinion polls and the recent royal wedding in Sweden was no exception.
Some are naturally more interesting than other, among them the opinion poll made by SIFO Research International for SVT (external link), which showed that 32 % think King Carl Gustaf should abdicate when he reaches the age of retirement next year, while 50 % think he should remain on the throne (18 % are in doubt or have no opinion).
In February last year the same poll (external link) made by the same institute but back then for Aftonbladet showed almost exactly the same result: 32 % said the King should retire, 45 % were opposed to the idea, 15 % thought it did not matter and 8 % were in doubt or had no opinion.
This could be compared to a Danish opinion poll earlier this year which showed that 23.5 % thought Queen Margrethe should abdicate on her 70th birthday, 22.1 % that she should do so before she turned 80 and 42.6 % that she should never abdicate. Perhaps one can conclude that a rather significant percentage both in Sweden and Denmark do not support (or perhaps do not understand?) the central idea of a hereditary monarchy, namely that the head of state is in office for life.
(As my report on the Danish poll this spring caused some confusion to one reader I should perhaps add already now this time that these are results of scientific opinion polls and not my personal opinion – the same goes for what follows).

Another opinion poll (external link), made by Forskningsgruppen för Samhälls- och informationsstudier (FSI, roughly “The Research Group for Society and Information Studies) on behalf of Dagens Nyheter, seems to have asked a rather oddly phrased question. According to this poll 40 % think the royal family “is good”, while 28 % think it “is bad”, while 46 % think the monarchy “is good” and 25 % that the monarchy is “bad”. This could be compared to the results of the same poll in 1996, when 69 % thought the royal family was good and 13 % that it was bad and 70 % thought the monarchy was good and 10 % that it was bad. This, held together with two recent opinion polls which showed 56 % and 58 % in favour of the monarchy, seems to confirm that the Swedes have again become more critical of their monarchy and royal family in recent years.

On the other hand one of the tabloids last week referred to an opinion poll which allegedly showed that 72 % were in favour of the monarchy and 16 % in favour of a republic replacing it. I have however been unable to find any reference to this poll on the Internet and the newspaper did not give any details such as when the poll had been taken up. It would have been very interesting to know if it had been done just after the royal wedding as several analysts, including me, have long expected that the royal wedding would cause a boost in support for the monarchy. If this poll was indeed made just after the wedding it would seem that the boost materialised quickly.


  1. "Perhaps one can conclude that a rather significant percentage both in Sweden and Denmark do not support (or perhaps do not understand?) the central idea of a hereditary monarchy, namely that the head of state is in office for life".

    We, in the Netherlands have a hereditary monarchy as well.....yet our queens (we have been having queens for a long time now)abdicate when they feel their time have come and thus make way for their successor.
    Our present queen Beatrix will do so within the near future.

  2. Yes, I know that has become a tradition in the Netherlands and also in Luxembourg, but it really contravenes one of the central ideas of hereditary monarchy ("the King is dead, long live the King", not "the King has reached the retirement age, may the new one live at least until he reaches the same age").

    The positive side about abdication may be that it allows the heir to succeed to the throne at his/her best age, rather than wait until old age like for instance Gustaf VI Adolf did. But I find it troubling if people start to see it as if the monarch more or less *has* to abdicate because previous monarchs have.

    From a foreign viewpoint it seems Queen Beatrix still has a lot to give and really enjoys her role, while her heir may need more years before he is ready to literally take over the mantle (and the age of his children is another consideration). Thus it would in my view be fortunate if Queen Beatrix at least did not abdicate "within the near future".

  3. Though I read some good websites about Royalty out of interest in history...deep in my heart I am a republican. The Netherlands have a republican history and a monarchy since 1815 only, after Napoleon's brother Louis, who was the first king we ever had.

    So in my opinion it's time for our queen to abdicate. She's 72 and it shows, like all the other old kings and queens who are "still in office". When I look at England's very old queen and Duke of E. I think that's tragic. They are far too old, too tired and should enjoy their pension. They act as if the world stops turning when they abdicate, but the are replacable, like you and me.

    Our Queen was ready to abdicate, she's a widow too and it's quite tough to be a queen without a husband. The only reason she stays on is because her heir Willem-Alexander is rather controversial and has a very bad relationship with the press. He's clumsy and not very bright. His wife is the opposite, but has to stay in his shadow because of many reasons, one being her father's political background.

    I respect your opinion but when you look at the poor 60 plus year old heir of the English throne, you must admit the medal has 2 sides;)

  4. Hi Trond,
    I have been much frustrated about how Swedish "kulturradikal" press and TV have been able to bury the SIFO-poll (from 21 june 2010)that you seem to refer to, but have not been able to find.

    Result: 74% want to keep monarchy,
    whereas 16% want to abolish it. The study was commissioned by Aftonbladet, but it should be noted that it was performed with the same type of question ("Do you want to keep or abolish the monarchy?") and the same kind of survey-method (telephone) as SIFO has used for 35 years. They have an unparalleled track record in surveing opinion about monarchy. The fact that Aftonbladet commissioned this specific sampling does not affect the statistical validity of it in my mind (and I have studied Mathematical Statistics).

    You can find it at:

    I am really shocked over the forces at play (I have indeed been in touch with influential editors in press and TV, and been shocked by their attitude of total denial of this SIFO-study) who have denied this publicity outside Aftonbladet. Even Aftonbladet buried the result and instead focused on the popularity figures of the royal family members.

    As for the FSI study. Basically, the respondents have been asked to grade the concept of monarchy on a 1-7 scale. The "46%" refers to those who have graded monarchy with grades 5 ("+"), 6 ("++") or 7 ("mycket bra"). Nothing can be construed from this as to the opinion amongst the populace to change the constitution. (That is why I love the SIFO studies who ask the forthright question: "keep/abolish".)

    However, this "46%" has gained a life of its own and has been quoted in Le Monde and ORF TV.
    The FSI study has never previously been quoted with regards to monarchy opinion, and it was clearly "sandbagged" by Dagens Nyheter's editor and brought out the day before the wedding on purpouse.

    I am really not prone to conspiracy theories, but the fact that an expert like you have not been able to easily find the SIFO-report is a result of SVT, TV4, Sveriges Radio, Dagens Nyheter, Expressen and even Svenska Dagbladet (although mentioned by political editor PJ Anders Linder in his blog) giving this zero editorial space. It just seems like you seel more magazines with negative headlines, foreboding upheaval. Positive figures promoting the preservation of status quo in society is does not make Swedish journalists tick.

    I'd appreciate if you in your journalistic efforts give the SIFO-report some visibility!

  5. Elenor, as I said in my previous comment, the positive thing about abdications are indeed that the heirs do not necessarily have to wait until late middle age or even old age before inheriting the throne. And there might be occasions when that is a particularly good thing - your country is one example; it would have been rather unfortunate if Queen Juliana had still been on the throne at the time of her death, when she was very nearly 95, had been senile for many years and her daughter was already 66 and a widow.

    But I cannot possibly agree that it is "tragic" to see monarchs in their 70s and 80s. There might be some monarchs who have functioned less than well in old age (Gustaf V might be one example), but there are also plenty of examples of monarchs perfectly able to carry out their duties in old age - Gustaf VI Adolf, Olav V and indeed Elizabeth II come to mind. Indeed I find it regretable that it seems to be quite common in modern society to believe that people are unable to function in any capacity once they have turned 67 or 70.

    Concerning the Netherlands I understand from Cees Fasseur's biography that Queen Wilhelmina's abdication in 1948 did not simply have to do with "old age" (she was 68, incidentially the exact same age as Gustaf VI Adolf when he succeeded to the Swedish throne two years later), but also with the fact that she was not allowed to play the more active political role which she would have wished for herself following the end of her exile. And I would not be surprised if historians in the future will be able to say that Queen Juliana's abdication was at least influenced by the Lockheed scandal involving Prince Bernhard four years earlier and a wish to give the monarchy a "fresh start" after its credibility had been weakened (but so far this is pure speculation on my side).

    For Queen Beatrix there are no such reasons and when it comes to her being a widow I think that my influence her to stay on the throne longer. If Prince Claus had still been alive (and in the state of health he was in for several years before he died) it would have been understandable if she abdicated some years ago to take care of him and spend more time with him. But now there are no such concerns.

  6. Panoptes, thank you for providing the link to the SIFO poll. It is very interesting to get confirmation that it was indeed done after the wedding, which confirms that the expected boost did happen (if it will last after the wedding euphoria has died down is of course another issue).

    I saw the reference in Aftonbladet, but did not buy the newspaper and when I tried to find it online it was indeed impossible. No newspapers or other Swedish media mentioned it on their websites and even a Google search (last option) turned up nothing.

    It is indeed quite odd that none of the media have reported about this interesting opinion poll, while the FSI study, which as you say is really difficult to read anything from, has been mentioned several places.

    As I am not a journalist I am afraid it will not be much I can do about bringing it into daylight, but if I write anything about the standing of the Swedish monarchy in the near future it will of course be natural to mention the poll's confirmation of the expected boost.

  7. Well, one could be excused for mistaking you for a journalist, when reading your pieces in Dagbladet :-)

    The Dagens Nyheter editor (who shall remain nameless) frankly said, that they would not mention the SIFO-poll, because "it was commissioned by some tabloid" and because "the Swedes were 'intoxicated' (swe. "i ett rus") after the wedding", thereby, in DN's eyes, rendering the poll useless.

    I doubt very much that in reality there was much of a slump in opinions about Monarchy, as a SIFO poll from February 2010 reported 76% support for monarchy. With another sampling only 4 months later showing 74% support, I find it hard to believe that any statistically valid (and not post-stratified (weighted)in numerous dimensions, due to respondents being mainly always online thirtysomething "latte-moms" or men pushing 60, with a radical past from the swinging 60's-70's, in urban areas) poll in a representative population would have detected slumps down to "58%", "56%" or that notorious "46%" at any time between Feb and Jun.

    The SIFO report offers many interesting highlights, e.g.:
    - 68% of those who would vote Miljöpartiet (MP) today, want to keep the monarchy (whereas the party officially wants to abolish it)
    - the King is hugely popular amongst young men in the age of 15-29
    - for the first time since the Vänsterpatiet's (V) founding in 1917, a poll by a reputable opinion research company has showed that repbublicans are in absolute majority (>50%) amongts those who would vote (V). Some studies by the SOM-institue have shown monarchists to be in (relative) majority amongst (V)-sympathisers on more than one occasion during the first years of the 21st century
    - the report does not really support the popular view amongst republicans, that time is working for them, rather it seems like republicanism is peaking with men of age 50-64 and women of age 30-49, and that republicanism is tapering off towards lower age groups

  8. The only thing I have written in Dagbladet recently is an op-ed about the British election. So far this year I have also contributed to Aftenposten, Aften, Dagsavisen, Adresseavisen and Politiken, but I am not a journalist for either of them.

    I can agree with the editor's point that this opinion poll was made while the Swedes were intoxicated after the wedding, but that does certainly not make it any less interesting - in fact that makes it very interesting as it shows how a big royal event can generate increased support for the monarchy.

    However, that it was commissioned by a tabloid does not really matter as long as the poll is done in a proper way by a serious institute. But that also means that I cannot join you in disregarding the polls which showed 56 and 58 % - one of them was commissioned by the Republican Assocation, but still done in a proper way by a serious institute and the same of course goes for the SOM Institute's poll from last autumn. And none of these were online polls (which are indeed worthless as they allow for the respondents to select themselves).

  9. http://www.trouw.nl/achtergrond/deverdieping/article3056041.ece/Zweedse_lessen_voor_de_koning.html?all=true

    The link above leads to an article in the Dutch press by one of the leading Dutch Newspapers of the "serious" press, which states that our Royal Family should take the Swedish Roayl Family as an example for their openess and easy way of dealing with the press.
    It also shows the results of a poll saying that 75% of the Swedes is pro monarchy, 80% is satisfied and 91% agrees with Victoria marying an ordinary man.

    You must have ways to translate this article as you reffered to books of Fasseur (controversial studies though) and I don't think his work has been translated into English, but I could be wrong;)

  10. Thank you for this link, I shall take a look at the article. You are right that Cees Fasseur's books have not been translated into English (and are unlikely to be), but for a Norwegian who reads German it is not particularly difficult to understand Dutch (at least written Dutch) fairly well. I have also been in contact with Professor Fasseur some years ago, but it is my impression that although his most recent book (on the marriage of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard and the Greet Hofmans affair) is indeed controversial, his biography of Queen Wilhelmina was not so.

  11. Yes, you are totally right. Here is another link, also in Dutch I am afraid, but as you understand German as well it must be "readable" for you. Otherwise get a google translation over it, it's a horrible translation-tool I agree but one can at least understand what the article is about and get the clue.


    This is an article about the book written by Annejet v.d. Zijl in which she contradicts Fasseur about Bernard. The book is the work Annejet wrote to get her PhD. Fasseur was one of the promotors and gave her all the credits for her research, which was nice.

    You are very up to date about Dutch Royal affairs I have to admite, very impressive!

  12. Thank you for the link. Although my writings and scholarly work are mostly concerned with the Scandinavian monarchies I also try to follow the major things relating to the other European monarchies as well. I have seen Queen Beatrix twice (in Amsterdam and in London) and both times I found her very charismatic.


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