Monday, July 15, 2002

Effects of Dutch Election on Immigration Policy

"Dutch Anti-Immigration Party Wins Cabinet Seats" Reuters, July 11, 2002

"This whole (immigration) process will now be our responsibility. From the moment that an asylum seeker comes to our country until he is integrated... That's what Pim Fortuyn always wanted," his successor as LPF leader, Mat Herben, told the Dutch news agency ANP.

The zero immigration demand, however, was rejected by the coalition. According to the Washington Post, the Dutch governing coalition intends to toughen regulations governing family reunification and admitting immigrants "who are in danger of ending up in a disadvantaged situation."

Friday, July 05, 2002

HRW criticizes Spain

DISCRETION WITHOUT BOUNDS: The Arbitrary Application of Spanish Immigration Law: Vol. 14, No. 6 (D), July 2002.

The Human Rights Watch study of Spain finds that "the fate of migrants arriving in Spain frequently depends on their point of entry. Spanish authorities responsible for implementing Law 8/2000 and its regulation appear to interpret and apply the law in the way that they feel makes the most sense for their particular locality, without regard for requirements of consistent, predictable, and non-arbitrary implementation of the law. Serious violations of migrants' rights result."

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Immigration plays a roll in German politics

Conservative Challenger Attacks German Chancellor

The opposition candidate for Chancellor, Edmund Stoiber, is using immigration as an issue.

"Mr. Stoiber also called again today for stricter controls on immigration. Despite his support from many businesses, he has tried to block a Schröeder-drafted law that would allow more immigration from well-educated workers, especially in computer sciences, that the aging German population needs to compete internationally."

This marks a change from past national elections when refugee politics would be hotly debated in parliament but almost never become electoral issues. It will be interesting to see how long Stoiber sticks with the issue and what success he has with it.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Enlarging the Club

"Enlargement is vital to defeat rise of far right, EU told" The Guardian, June 6, 2002

Since part of the appeal of the extreme right is Europe, and another critical component is the movement of people across borders, it has been suggested that slowing down enlargement might be a good idea.

"Gunter Verheugen, the German commissioner in charge of enlargement, said that the December deadline for concluding negotiations with the 10 hopefuls must be met...

You don't want to to create impenetrable borders between that part of Europe that is affluent and that part which is desperately trying to catch up," he said. "Enlargement is not the problem. Enlargement is part of the solution."

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

The New Gated Community

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Fortress Europe pulls up the drawbridge

Article compares European immigration policy to the trend to local gated communities in the U.S.:

But gated communities are so 1990s. The issue now is whether we are about to see our first gated continent: Europe. With anti-immigrant sentiment running high and right-wing parties on the march, it seems only a matter of time before a new iron curtain descends, with armed guards patrolling the eastern frontier and warships in the Mediterranean to protect our European home.

Article argues that the rush to closure on the part of European governments undermines their ability to make the case for legal immigration, which, as all economists recognize, is necesary to provide labor for jobs that Europeans are unwilling to take and to support the welfare states in countries where the aging native populations will be drawing on more resources than they can provide. In England, the contribution of migrants is clear:

The Treasury says that migration has added around half a percentage point to the UK's trend rate of growth, with around 90% of net migration accounted for by people of working age.

In recent years, there had been a trend in countries like Germany and Italy for politicians and economic elites to begin to make the case for immigration, and, despite the risk of political backlash, to develop actual immigration policies. This trend now appears to be on the wane.

Monday, June 03, 2002

French Support British Deportation Policy

BBC News | EUROPE | Winning French approval

Far from bridling at the notion of economic migrants being forced back onto the ferries at Dover and crowding out the already over-stuffed Sangatte centre, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy sees the British initiative as broadly positive.

Intriguing article on why the French are sympathetic to a British policy of expulsions that lands them with the immigrants. Article speculates that the French believe that if Britain is not perceived as easy on asylum-seekers, there will be fewer transiting through France seeking to go to England. Moreover, putting expulsion on the agenda, suits the right-center French government: "Raising the question of carrying out (expulsions) should not be a taboo in a state governed by the law," (French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy).

Effects of changing Danish asylum policy

Immigration stance deters asylum-seekers -- The Washington Times

The publicity that has greeted Denmark's policy is thought to have prompted a big decline in the number of asylum-seekers, which dropped from 3,033 in the first three months of 2001 to 1,877 in the same period this year.

It is becoming clear that the change in European countries' openness to asylum-seekers is having its desired efffect. What is less clear of course is what is happening to those who would have applied. Are they staying home? applying to other countries? or entering illegally?

UNHCR warns Europe not to make scapegoats of asylum-seekers

U.N. rejects European refugee fears Reuters, June 1, 2002

The office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said asylum-seekers, many fleeing oppressive political regimes, were being unfairly portrayed as being a large part of the illegal immigration problem.

"There are many problems managing immigration in Europe...(but) asylum-seekers form only a smallish part of the overall immigration picture," UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters.

Article makes clear that the number of asylum-seekers is not that vast, and in fact half the level of the early 1990s. What the article does not mention is that public opinion, if the German experience of the early 1990s is to serve as our guide, does not distinguish between different kinds of immigrants. Thus governments can easily score political points by "cracking down" on groups that are not at the heart of the problem.

Friday, May 31, 2002

European Countertrend?

Rau Still Weighing Decision on Immigration Bill

"German President Johannes Rau says he has not yet decided whether to sign legislation designed to become the country's first immigration law even though a member of the governing coalition says he will do so."
On FAZ via News Is Free

Issue turns on arcane debates about whether bill's passage was legal. If Rau signs, it will undoubtedly be challenged in court. According to the "Bild", it now appears that Rau will sign the legislation (June 9).

European Trend I

Refugees face immediate deportation

Staff and agencies
Thursday May 30, 2002

New measures to deport asylum seekers immediately were today announced by the Home Office as figures showed the number of people seeking asylum in Britain fell by 10% on the previous year.

According to David Blunkett, the home secretary:

"We will return these people to their country of origin as soon as we have rejected their claim. "If they choose to appeal, they will have to do so from their home country.

"This decision would be taken literally within a matter of one or two days of any claim made within this country."

European Trend II

Denmark Tightens Immigration Rules
Associated Press Writer

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Parliament voted Friday tighten Denmark's immigration and asylum rules, making it harder for foreigners to seek asylum, get residence permits and welfare benefits.

The legislation, which has been criticized abroad for being too harsh, was presented earlier this year by the Liberal-Conservative minority government. The center-right coalition took office in November on promises to protect the prosperous nation's cradle-to-grave welfare system from being exploited by outsiders.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Migration Information Source

Migration Information Source "The Migration Information Source provides fresh thought, authoritative data, and global analysis of international migration and refugee trends. A unique, online resource, the Source offers useful tools, vital data, and essential facts on the movement of people worldwide."

Site lives up to its hype. Solid, quantitative data on immigrants (and refugees) around the world presented in an artful fashion, with a simple and straight-forward interface. Site has Interesting news items, data on immigration policy both in the United States and the rest of the world, and announcements on upcoming conferences. Recently launched, the site is still a bit rough around the edges, with a search function that has not yet been implemented, Javascript that does not produce graphs from the tables, and uneven, and still limited country portraits. Five stars a must see for academics and anyone concerned with comparative immigration policy. Developed by the Migration Policy Institute

When politics fail, call in the police

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | EU Mulls Immigration, Asylum Rules

"Mulls" is the operative term. While there are some concrete proposals on the table, including a European Union border police and a commitment of the Gallileo satellites (available in 2006) to track immigration flows, there does not seem to be sufficient momentum to opt for great innovations in European immigration or asylum policies. Perhaps because the EU interior ministers are actually meeting in Italy, the news coverage in La Repubblica is far more detailed as to how the police force would be constructed and what its aims are, including the fact that Italy has volunteered to coordinate the process.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

"Plus d'un Français sur quatre adhère aux idées de l'extrême droite" (More than one Frenchman in four agrees with the ideas of the far right)

Le Monde interactif : Recherche

The most striking aspect of this is how much the popularity of Le Pen and his ideas has risen since 1998 when little more than 10% of the French agreed with these ideas. The most popular areas for the extreme right are security and justice where over 40% of the population agree.

The class breakdown is as follows (if you want a translation, say so in the comments)

Le profil des personnes qui sont d'accord avec les positions du FN est très typé, et ses caractéristiques se confirment sur toutes les questions posées par la Sofres. Les meilleurs soutiens de M. Le Pen sont les personnes les plus âgées (30 % approuvent ses idées, contre 19 % des 18-24 ans) et les moins diplômées (46 % d'approbation chez les non-diplômés, contre 14 % seulement chez les diplômés de l'enseignement supérieur) ; socialement, deux catégories se distinguent : les ouvriers (35 % d'approbation) et les commerçants, artisans, chefs d'entreprise (34 %), alors que les cadres et professions intellectuelles ne sont que 13 % à approuver les idées d'extrême droite.

What France and Germany can agree on...

Trying to Learn the Right's Lessons Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitschrift, English language edition.
By Michaela Wiegel

Articles suggests that the Le Pen/Fortuyn electoral successes will put more pressure on a Europe-wide solution to immigration issues--or at least the appearance of one. So far all they can do is empower the police:

'The two countries' interior ministers, Otto Schily of Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy of France, on Monday announced an agreement that allows their respective police forces to make arrests in each other's country. So far only the pursuit of lawbreakers across the border was allowed in the EU, with the arrest having to be made by the local police."

Whether more comprehensive plans will emerge is hard to tell, but, as the FAZ insists, nothing serious is going to happen before the German elections in the fall.

Pim Fortuyn's party in government

TIME Europe Magazine: Do The Right Thing -- May. 27, 2002
Article indicates that the Christian Democratic Party (CDA), led by Jan Peter Balkenende, the most likely Prime Minister of the next Dutch government, is willing to invite the late Pim Fortuyn's party (LPF) into government, but at a price:

"He noted pointedly last week that if the LPF is to participate in a coalition, it would have to distance itself from its late leader's comment about Islam being a "backward culture" and moderate its hardline positions against both immigration and the Dutch health disability scheme. Yet the Fortuyn crowd will surely put their own stamp on any coalition agreement."

The articles does not specify would that stamp would be. Is this because the Times Reporter does not know or because the LPF, without its leader and defanged on the immigration issue does not know what it wants?

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

85% of Financial Times readers polled think "Europe's Right is Clearly on the Rise"

Check out the poll results and join in the Financial Times discussion on the issue. (You have to scroll down to see the results)

You don't need a weatherman to know which ways the political winds are blowing.

EU 'must bring immigration laws into line'
Jon Henley in Paris
Tuesday May 28, 2002
The Guardian

"France and Germany promised last night to make tighter and better coordinated European immigration laws a top priority at next month's EU summit in Seville to prevent the far right hijacking the issue to its electoral advantage."

Clearly, the electoral results in Europe are going to tempt the countries to kick the problem upstairs and hope that the European Community can produce more a more coherent policy. This has been a goal for years, without overwhelming results, but when France and Germany agree....

The joys of The French electoral system, or why we heard so much about Le Pen

"The politics of chaos:
France offers an object lesson in how not to run a political system"
Arnold Kemp Sunday May 26, 2002, The Observer

From the Scottish perspective, the perverse electoral incentives of the French system.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

xenophobia : Europe Swings Right, and World Sits Up

Unusually sustained and comprehensive article, but one which in the end psychologizes the problem, reducing it to xenophobia. The critical observation is under the rubric of:

Daughters, Cousins and Strangers

While the rise of the right can be seen as a reaction to the perceived stodginess of Europe's now crumbling center-left, experts agree that the right's recent robustness has emerged from its ability to touch on the continent's exposed nerve: a fear of the outsider.
It's a craving for familiarity exemplified by an old Le Pen slogan that goes: "I like my daughters better than my cousins, my cousins better than my neighbors, my neighbors better than strangers and strangers better than enemies."

There is a point there, but my understanding was always that one preferred to fight with one's cousins, as more immediate family was too close and everyone else was too distant. What is curious in this context is how the distant has become proximate, without seeming any less strange.

Anthony Giddens on recent electoral results

Daily Yomiuri On-Line Giddens argues that the reasons for the left's decline (and the rise of the far and moderate right) in recent European elections are cyclical and tactical. The political lessons that he suggests are to address both fears about immigration and the political intolerance it has produced and for the new moderate left forces to stay the course..

"The renewed polarization of politics on the left and right plainly is a threat to political stability. However, the cause of the modernizing left is by no means lost. It remains the only feasible way forward for European social democrats. Continuing ideological change will have to be coupled with effective tactical thinking. The left can continue to win if its divisions are less acute than those on the right."

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Online community discussion of Jean Marie Le Pen and Pim Fortuyn

For those seeking to debate the populist/far-right issue, there are lively discussion of Le Pen and Fortuyn at Kuro5hin. The organizers of the community describe it as: is a community of people who like to think. You will not find garbage in the discussions here, because noise is not tolerated. This is a site for people who want to discuss the world they live in. It's a site for people who are on the ground in the modern world, and who sometimes look around and wonder what they have wrought. has enacted a system where members judge which threads are most prominently listed and which members opinions should be disregarded. As a result, it is possible to have discussions of controversial issues, without having reasonable comments drowned out by flames. While there are concerns as to whether and its more famous cousin, slashdot are creating or merely pantomiming community, it certainly looks like a good place to hang out and talk politics.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Now that the pundits have gone home, can anyone govern the Netherlands?

Sasha Polakow-Suransky, "Going Dutch: Pim Fortuyn's legacy pushed the center-right into power in the Netherlands. Now what?," The American Prospect Online, May 16, 2002.

A useful look, drawing on Dutch academics, at what will happen after the electoral season has come and gone.

It is clear that three basic questions will take a while to answer.
Will Fortuyn's party actually get into government?
Do they have a platform?
Do they have the minimum experience necessary to govern?

The likely answer to all three questions are no, but stranger things have happened.

Morevoer, electoral promises from populist parties are no more likely than those from mainstream parties to be redeemed. The case of the Northern Italian Leagues on immigration policy in their 1994 governmental participation is a case in point. While the Leagues were clearly opposed to immigration, once they came into government, clear splits emerged between those in the party who wanted amnesty and those who wanted to deport all illegal immigrants. While the government did not last long enough for a resolution to emerge, it clearly showed that one should be cautious in predicting policies. Sasha Polakow-Suransky's assumption that it will accelerate the move to the right of policies that have been drifting that way throughout the 1990s is likely to be correct, but any changes or more likely to be result of the message of the election than the election of the messenger.

Pim Fortuyn cartoon

The Guardian's Steve Bell
"The Spirit of Pim Fortuyn lives on"

The style of Pim Fortuyn

"Mourning Pim Fortuyn" by Jill Cogswell

A thoughtful, witty, sympathetic portrait of what gave Pim Fortuyn popularity. It tries to put his more vituperative anti-Muslim statements in context, arguing essentially that it was intolerance of intolerance. It also captures the flamboyance of his political style, which like Umberto Bossi of the Northern Leagues in Italy, is often more important than the substance of his remarks--and certainly contrasts with the gray style of endless coalition governments where you need a magnifying glass to discern the difference between party vocabularies.

"Out and proud to be gay, the controversial Fortuyn set Dutch politics on its ears with a flamboyant combination of left right punches. While much of the global media cast him as a Jean-Marie Le Pen light, it's difficult to imagine the French extreme-righist declaring, like Fortuyn, that one of the first things he would do if he took office was "borrow that handbag from Margaret Thatcher, bang on the table and say I want my money back," from the European Union (the Netherlands' financial contribution is, proportionately, the largest of any member state.)"

Xenophobia affecting European Expansion

EU enlargement must carry on despite far-right europhobia: EBRD
by Mihaela Rodina
BUCHAREST, May 19 (AFP) (reported in EUbusiness)

European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary affairs Pedro Solbes says that rising xenophobia in Europe should not derail expansion. However, the fact that he feels obligated to make a statement suggests that some concerns are being raised. Article is fairly straightforward, but there is one intriguing argument that is not developed.

"Diplomats from candidate states gathered at the forum said that EU enlargement must be sped up to stave off threats from the rise of the far-right, which wins popular support through its anti-immigration and EU-sceptical policies."

Exactly how expansion will prevent the rise of the far right is a mystery. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Sunday, May 19, 2002

A-Pathos in French Election

"The victory of apathy and antipathy"
Marius Benson, Editor, Expatica Germany, 22 April 2002

The wittiest line about the effects of division of the left on Le Pen's success in the French election--thanks to the Guardian

"Le Pen won about 17 per cent of the vote. In the last Presidential polls in 1995 he won 15 per cent, so any swing to the right is marginal rather than revolutionary.

At the recent winter Olympics an Australian skater - who barely knew how to tie his skates - won a gold medal because he was so slow that when the real contenders got into a tangle and fell over near the finish line, he was the last man standing.

Something similar happened in France at the weekend, with the fissiparous left splitting into so many political fragments that finally even the biggest was smaller than the Le Pen faction."