Bailout Fatigue, Casual Racism & EU Tea Parties

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 4/15/2011 12:02:00 AM
For obvious reasons, yours truly is particularly attuned to shifting political sentiment towards migration here in Europe. Earlier on, I had a post on the electoral gains made by parties with openly xenophobic agendas. Sour times breed sour sentiments; that much is obvious. While far-right parties are worrisome, I've previously thought that mainstream parties co-opting this message in a more offhand manner is actually more dangerous. Here in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron is no stranger to stirring this particular pot. For instance, he like Germany's Angela Merkel has declared multiculturalism dead while not grasping what it means to begin with. Now, he his stated intention to reduce migration to the tens of thousands has prompted a rebuke by his Lib Dem coalition partner Business Secretary Vince Cable that Cameron risked inflaming extremism.

While the UK is not as big on the European financial stage as Germany for the obvious reason of not being in the Eurozone, both share the burden of bailing out various ailing European nations. And so it has proven that these, alike many other countries asked to pony up emergency funds, are experiencing unrest among restless natives weary of bailouts. By not condemning migration baiting but actually giving it lip service when it suits, mainstream parties may be opening the door to the rise of extreme right outfits as what I call casual racism against immigrants is mainstreamed. The earlier diagram in the first link above aside, we may see the rise of extremism through the ostensibly "friendlier" guise of anti-EU sentiment:
Chroniclers of Europe’s populist fringe have long focused on the anti-immigration rhetoric of many of these parties, particularly the National Front in France and Mr Wilders’ Dutch Freedom party. But many, such as Mr Soini in Finland or Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever, have either shunned or played down their anti-foreigner roots and re-branded themselves for the economically angry mainstream. Softening her party’s hard-edge approach to race and immigration helped Marine Le Pen, the sunnier face of her father’s [Dominique Le Pen] angry French nationalism, woo white working-class voters disillusioned with Mr Sarkozy’s economic policies.

We are witnessing Europe’s own Tea Party moment. Like Barack Obama, US president, leaders of European nations with the might to rescue a continent from crisis are hamstrung by voters who have had enough bailing out others. Much like Mr Obama, these leaders are having a hard time figuring out how to win voters back. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has shown just enough solidarity to help the eurozone but her begrudging approach has only heightened popular resentment at profligate southerners.
I must admit it's getting pretty ugly out here in old Europe for us non-EU, non-white folks. While the LSE churns out among the most desirable of international graduates in the UK, persistent negativity about their contributions to the British economy as either students or workers later on is not encouraging. If the purported cream of the crop is being told to go, who'll remain?

As for me, it's probably time to move on.