The Corner

Pushing Back

The latest group of voters given the chance to react to Europe’s current migrant wave were Swiss. And they don’t seem to be too enthused by what they are seeing.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

ZURICH—Right-wing parties made big gains in Switzerland’s parliamentary elections Sunday, after a campaign in which concerns about immigration and asylum-seekers took center stage. The populist Swiss People’s Party, or SVP, strengthened its position as the country’s largest party, a move that could shift Switzerland’s government to the right and affect its relations with the neighboring European Union.

In the aftermath of a 2014 referendum to limit the number of immigrants from the EU, the migration crisis gripping the continent has been the chief worry among Swiss voters in recent weeks.

Although the wealthy Alpine country hasn’t seen large numbers of arriving refugees and other migrants, nearly half of respondents in a survey said the crisis affecting other parts of Europe was their No. 1 concern. National identity is an important issue in a country where roughly a quarter of the 8.2 million population are foreigners and immigration has increased in recent years.

These concerns favored the SVP, which increased its share of votes to 29.5% from 26.6% in the 2011 election, according to Swiss state broadcaster SRF. The SVP increased its seat tally in the country’s 200-seat lower house by 11 seats to 65, the broadcaster said in its final results…..

This follows strong recent showings in recent local elections by the populist Freedom Party in neighboring Austria.

To the north, there are increasing signs of discontent in Germany with Angela Merkel, the woman who has done so much to make this crisis worse and, judging by her grotesque performance in Turkey is not finished yet. 

DW:

The threats from the right wing of Angela Merkel’s party are growing louder – and its demands simpler. Now a large influential faction of MPs in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is reportedly drawing up a new set of measures to stem the flow of refugees into Germany – most notably, they did not rule out building border fences. According to a report in Monday’s “Bild” newspaper, the initiative comes from the “parliamentary circle for mid-sized companies” (PKM), a faction of center-right Bundestag members that claims to represent the interests of small and mid-sized German businesses. It comprises some 188 members of the 311 CDU/CSU parliamentarians currently in the Bundestag.

“We have to stop the stream of refugees,” PKM chairman Christian Freiherr von Stetten told “Bild.” “Thinking about border fortification should not be taboo.” The package would also include measures to shut out at the border anyone that come from nations that Germany deems “safe countries of origin” – which normally means the Western Balkans.

Further north still, in Sweden, the ‘humanitarian superpower’ itself, there are encouraging signs that the comfortable establishment consensus may be fraying. The ‘December Agreement’, the deservedly notorious post-democratic stitch-up (I wrote about it here) in which the establishment parties conspired to stop an election in which the populist Sweden Democrats (the sole party seriously opposed to mass immigration) might do well (predictably enough, the result was to push the SD even higher in the polls) has now collapsed leaving open the possibility that the current minority left-wing government might fall.

Euractiv reports:

A surge in the number of refugees arriving in Sweden over the past few years has led the conservative Moderates, the country’s biggest opposition party, to toughen its stance on immigration. Over the weekend, the party presented an immigration package which includes six points on how to make Swedish policies stricter on the matter. These include the introduction of temporary residence permits, speeding up asylum case decisions, accelerated deportation orders for rejected migrants, and a ban on begging.

“We need to have control of our borders and the people who arrive, and we need to have a faster process in asylum cases,” said Anna Kinberg Batra, the leader of the Moderates, at a press briefing.

“I have begun an important evaluation of our migration and integration policies,” she added.

Sweden has had a liberal approach to immigration for decades, and is currently taking in 2,000 asylum seekers per day, which will cost the country an estimated €4 billion this year.  A year ago, former premier Fredrik Reinfeldt, the previous leader of the Moderates, gave a now famous speech saying that Sweden should be a humanitarian superpower and asked the Swedes to “open their hearts” to the many refugees arriving in their country.

Jabber like that, as irresponsible as it was saccharine, and the policy disaster it hymned, accelerated the dramatic rise of the SD, a once-obscure party with very unsavory origins (from which it is busy distancing itself), and contributed to the wretched Reinfeldt’s richly deserved defeat in last year’s general election.

Whether the Moderates’ (better described as center-right than conservative) belated (and inadequate) shift will help them head off the SD threat to their right remains to be seen. 

Meanwhile, the migrants pour in to Sweden, but not to worry, as Reinfeldt explained last year:

“There is no place for the Sweden Democrats on the ‘borgerlig’ (liberal/conservative) side of Swedish politics,” he said. Reinfeldt furthermore rejected the notion that Sweden offers a safe haven for more refugees than the country can cope with, saying that there is plenty of room in the Nordic countries for more human beings fleeing oppression and war.  ”What does the word “enough” mean? Sweden is full? The Nordic region is full? Are we too many people? We are 25 million people living in the North. I often fly over the Swedish countryside and I would advise others to do. There are endless fields and forests. There’s more space than you might imagine. Those who claim that the country is full, they should demonstrate where it is full.”

Oh well. 

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