Sydney Morning Herald columnist
An estimated 1.5 million immigrants and refugees will arrive in Europe this year, and the inundation is driving Europe to the anti-immigrant right in election after election.
Tony Abbott tells Europe to shut its borders
The recently ousted Prime Minister implores Europe to follow Australia’s lead and bar asylum seekers from entering. Courtesy of ABC News 24.
For several years, the Canadian author Mark Steyn has been starkly pessimistic about Europe. He recently travelled to Europe to see what the immigration influx looked like. He began in Sweden, the most generous country to immigrants in Europe, and had barely arrived when he had an encounter, described on his website on September 29:
“I was looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet of Scandinavian First Class. But, just as I took my seat and settled in, a gaggle of ‘refugees’ swarmed in, young bearded men and a smaller number of covered women, the lads shooing away those first-class ticket holders not as nimble in securing their seats…
“They seemed to take it for granted that asylum in Europe should come with complimentary first-class travel … The conductor gave a shrug, the great universal shorthand for there’s-nothing-I-can do.”
Illustration: Simon Bosch
What Europeans can do is vote, and, in the wake of more than a million immigrants arriving this year, their voting is showing a clear pattern:
Britain. In the general election of May 7, by far the biggest increase in votes since the 2010 election went to the UK Independence Party, up from 867,000 votes (3.5 per cent), to 3.9 million votes (12.7 per cent). UKIP is now the third force in English politics.
France. Opinion polls show that the most supported politician in France is now Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-European Union party. In national provincial elections in March, the National Front polled the second-highest number of votes, 25 per cent, behind the centre-right UMP, with 30 per cent. Their combined vote routed France’s socialist parties. Le Pen will seek the presidency in 2017.
Denmark. In the national election on June 8, Denmark swung right and the Social Democrats lost power. The anti-Muslim Danish People’s Party surged from 22 seats to 37, while the conservative Venstre party won the highest number of seats, 47, and formed government.
Netherlands. In the months since the immigrant influx, Holland’s most strident critic of Islam, Geert Wilders, has become the country’s most popular leader. His Party for Freedom (PVV), has polled an average 33.5 per cent in recent opinion polls, far more than any other party.
Switzerland. In the national election on October 20, the anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party won the largest vote, with 29.4 per cent, a record for the party, giving it 65 seats in the 200-seat National Council. Coupled with a swing to the conservative Free Democratic Party, which finished third, Switzerland made a decisive tilt to the right.
Poland. Last Sunday, Poland turned right in the national election. The Law and Justice Party, which is anti-immigration, anti-Euro and sceptical of the European Union, won 39 per cent of the vote and formed government.
Austria. In the Styrian state election on May 31, the hard-line anti-immigration, anti-Muslim Freedom Party of Austria won a 16 per cent swing, to 27 per cent, just behind the first-placed Social Democrats.
Italy did elect a liberal president this year, but the country is still scarred by the excesses of the right-wing president Silvio Berlusconi. In Spain’s regional elections, the left made big gains, but the right was in power during a recession.
What is driving the general lurch to the right is fear, a fear of rapid demographic change, high welfare costs, higher unemployment and declining social cohesion.
The epicentre of tension is Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her government would accept 800,000 refugees from Syria this year alone. The subsequent inundation, with the majority of arrivals not Syrian, forced Germany to try to rescind its promise.
Too late. More than 500 arson attacks have occurred in Germany this year targeting housing designated for refugees.
In Cologne last weekend, the mayor, Henriette Reker, a pro-immigration politician, survived an assassination attempt. She was severely wounded in a knife attack by an anti-immigration assailant.
Crime flows both ways. A confidential police report leaked to a German newspaper revealed that 38,000 asylum-seekers in Germany were charged with crimes in 2014.
Police are now urging segregation in immigration shelters, with numerous media reports of violence between Sunnis and Shiites, and intimidation and rapes by Muslims of Christians.
In Munich, a German doctor recently posted a warning online that went viral: “The situation here and at other Munich hospitals is unsustainable … Many Muslims are refusing treatment by female staff… Since last weekend, migrants going to the hospitals must be accompanied by police with K-9 units.”
I began with Mark Steyn and I’ll conclude with his prediction, published on September 24, that what is happening in Europe is an invasion, not an influx:
“The trains pull into German stations to disgorge men who meet no known definition of “refugees”… and who, according to the UN, make up 75 per cent of the “refugees” … Only one in five … are Syrians fleeing the implosion of their country…”
“[It is] the ruthless demographic logic of what happens when an impoverished tide of humanity [is] next door to a depopulating, not-so-gated community of soft decadent poseurs … Angela Merkel has given a generation of young men … their battle cry. And the lesson of this month is that no one will stop them.”
This encapsulates a growing view in Europe from which you may recoil, as it contrasts starkly with the liberal belief that the West has a moral obligation to help the wretched.
I doubt the liberal view will prevail. The dots are starting to connect. They point to a gathering storm, building on millions of small indignities and disappointments which, over time, will add up to something large.