Sweden sees lowest support for republic in 20 years

It doesn't look like Sweden will be getting rid of its king any time soon, according to a new study showing that support for abolishing the monarchy is the lowest in over 20 years.

Sweden sees lowest support for republic in 20 years
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria arrive at the coronation of Britain's King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla. Photo: Phil Noble/Pool Photo via AP/TT

The SOM Institute’s latest report shows that support for the Swedish monarchy remains relatively stable, as does support for King Carl XVI Gustaf, Sweden’s longest-reigning monarch ever, who celebrates 50 years on the throne this year.

He scored +15 on a scale from -50 to +50, with his popularity highest among the elderly and among Christian Democrat voters and lowest among Left Party voters – although there were still more in this group who liked him than disliked him (+3).

Last year, 54 percent were in favour of keeping the monarchy, while 20 percent wanted to abolish it. 

Only 11 percent of respondents were in favour of a republic with an elected president, the lowest figure since 2001, while 68 percent were against.

Liberal voters were least in favour of a republic, with 80 percent against. Left Party voters were most positive, but even this group didn’t have a majority – only 26 percent were in favour.

A possible explanation could be the current heir to the Swedish throne, Crown Princess Victoria, who is the most popular public figure ever in the history of the SOM Institute’s surveys, scoring +28 on the popularity scale.

“Men and women like the king equally, but when it comes to Crown Princess Victoria, it’s clear that women are especially positive,” said Ulrika Andersson, the researcher at the SOM Institute responsible for the study.

This puts her above both former US president Barack Obama and former Norwegian prime minister and current Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who have previously returned high scores in the same study.

“Even those people who think the monarchy should be abolished have an overwhelmingly positive image of the crown princess, which must put her in a good position for a future accession to the throne,” Andersson said.

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IN PICTURES: Swedes throng capital for royal jubilee

Tens of thousands of Swedes thronged central Stockholm on Saturday to mark 50 years since King Carl XVI Gustaf ascended the throne.

IN PICTURES: Swedes throng capital for royal jubilee

To the sound of military bands and under a sunny sky, the 77-year-old monarch, clad in a sober suit and tie, enjoyed the public acclaim along with Queen Silvia, 79, wearing a canary yellow ensemble, as six horses led the royal procession.

The crowd broke into applause as they passed and waved Swedish flags to mark the milestone for Carl Gustaf, who was the world’s youngest monarch when he was crowned aged 27 in September 1973 after the death of his grandfather Gustaf VI Adolf.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (3rd L) and Queen Silvia of Sweden (C) arrive at the Royal Palace during festivities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf’s accession to the throne. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

The king is the longest reigning monarch in Sweden’s history and also the European monarch with the second-longest reign, behind his cousin Queen Margrethe of Denmark who took the throne in 1972.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (L) and Queen Silvia of Sweden stand on a royal boat during the festivities. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

Born on April 30, 1946, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus Bernadotte was only nine months old when his father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, died in a plane crash in Denmark.

Central Stockholm was closed to traffic with police expecting crowds across the day to top several hundred thousand — though celebrations went ahead amid tight security given that Sweden last month raised its terror alert level following a spate of Koran burnings that have angered the Muslim world.

Spectators crowd to watch Sweden’s King and Queen. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

Christina Flodin, an administrator aged 59, was among admirers of the king, who Friday oversaw the changing of the guard at the palace ahead of a gala banquet for business and religious leaders and other Scandinavian royals. 

 ‘Continuity, stability’

“I am there to celebrate his 50 years with him — I want to show my gratitude for all he has done,” she told AFP, saying he represents in her view “continuity, stability, a good model leader.”

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (C-R) and Queen Silvia of Sweden (C-L) arrive in a carriage. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

“I came for my brother who is in the navy and participating in the parade,” said Wendela Seppi, a machine operator aged 23. “It’s a bit unreal — I find it’s cool something’s happening” in Stockholm.

READ ALSO: QUIZ: How much do you know about King Carl XVI Gustaf?

The afternoon procession through the capital was the highlight of the celebrations, their horse-drawn carriage escorted by 3,000 troops from the army, navy and air force and military bands.

Royal guards parade during the festivities. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

The final leg of the procession was to see them being rowed across the water in the royal barge to the steps below the palace in the Old Town, with an outdoor concert nearby featuring several popular Swedish acts to top off the day, from Cuban salsa to disco and classic Swedish sounds.

The city centre was transformed into a giant public dance floor to allow residents to let their hair down.

Despite occasional scandals — the biggest when a 2010 book alleged he frequented sex clubs and had numerous affairs — the king enjoys broad support in his homeland.

Spectators watch jet fighters flying in formation above the Royal Palace. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

A poll this month in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter said 62 percent of Swedes were in favour of the monarchy, a level that has remained stable over two decades.

READ ALSO: LISTEN: King’s 50th jubilee, and must Swedish citizenship be ‘protected’?

The king’s role has been purely ceremonial since constitutional reform in 1974.

“We must not abolish the monarchy,” said Martin Persson, a 60-year-old bus driver. “I think it’s good — and I’m hoping to see him today,” said Persson, from the western coastal town of Vastra Gotaland. 

(On the balcony, L-R) Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Prince Daniel of Sweden, Princess Sofia of Sweden, Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill stand on the Palace balcony. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

The palace has remained tight-lipped about the cost of the festivities.

As far as presents for his majesty are concerned, Swedish furniture retailer Ikea is gifting the man who already has a throne a special armchair to mark the occasion.

The retro design comes from the “1970s when the king met Silvia at the Olympic Games in Munich,” Ikea executive Johan Ejdemo told AFP.