Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Europe veering to the right?

Disgusted with Faux News, the new Tea partiers in Congress, and Rush Limbaugh? Wouldn't it be nice to pack up and move to Europe, that reliable bastion of social democratic sanity? Well, you might want to hold off on buying that one way ticket to Geneva. From Ian Traynor's piece in The Guardian:

The centre-left is losing support across Europe to the extreme right. Recent gains for the extremists have been at the expense of Sweden's and Austria's social democratic parties and the Dutch Labour party, with the far right prospering in cities with significant immigrant populations that traditionally voted for the left.

The anti-immigrant policy gains made in recent months look likely to continue. In Switzerland, polls show majority support for a referendum this month demanding summary deportation of foreigners sentenced for petty crimes, not just for more serious crimes as up till now. The plebiscite is being organised by the rightwing Swiss People's party, which a year ago won another referendum banning minarets.

In France there are growing calls within President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party for a merger with Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front. A poll last month showed one-third of UMP voters backed joint electoral pacts with the National Front. In Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi is in coalition with the far-right Northern League, the interior minister has announced a new crackdown on expelling EU citizens who cannot support themselves, a policy aimed at east European Roma and aping Sarkozy's summer expulsions in France.

When I lived in Italy the Roma (or "Gyspies") were certainly marginalized, but the government mostly tried to protect them from violence and harassment. Now it seems the Italians might follow the French lead and allow old prejudices to dictate current policy. The Swiss have never had much tolerance for non-wealthy foreigners, perhaps a new sort of xenophobia will prove a costly mistake. It could make them lose out on the benefits of having oil-rich Arabs spend money in their expensive shops and restaurants. In any case, if we could convince some of our Islamophobic nutcases to leave America and join their racist brethren, in the old country, we might catch a break. Who knows, they might even change their minds about "socialized medicine!"

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