While Estonians' perceptions of Sweden has remained generally positive, survey results published on Friday hint that its positive reputation has slipped somewhat in recent years.
While 43 percent of respondents in a similar survey conducted in 2009 found that Estonia should definitely see Sweden as an example and learn from it, only 25 percent of respondents to the 2016 survey, commissioned by the Swedish Embassy, the Swedish Institute and Telia and conducted by Turu-uuringute AS, felt the same. The ratio of people who found that Estonia should not take Sweden as an example did not increase substantially, however.
Asked what caused the slip in Estonians' perception of their neighbor across the Baltic Sea, 85 percent of respondents named topics relating to national defense, refugees and immigration, while another nine percent cited family values adhered to in Sweden and attitudes toward same-sex cohabitation and sexual minorities. Anther seven percent referenced personal experiences on the Swedish job market while 14 percent cited reasons unrelated to the above.
The highest scores were given to the Swedish social system and environmental situation, while Estonians most negatively viewed Sweden's immigration and defense policies and topics concerning sexual minorities.
When asked what first came to mind when they think about Sweden, 24 percent cited the king, the royal family or the royal palace, while another 19 percent first thinks about Stockholm, cruise ships, the capital's tourist sights and tourism, and an additional 11 percent of respondents each first calls Swedish state insignia and policy and nature in Sweden to mind.
"What was unexpected for us was that people in Estonia connect Sweden primarily with the royal house and other traditional topics rather than modern technology, effectiveness and businesses supporting it," said Swedish Trade Council Country Manager Janar Sutt. "We've still got a lot of work to do."
The poll regarding perceptions of Sweden was conducted by Turu-uuringute AS, who interviewed 1,002 people ages 15 and older between March 29 and April 12.
Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik