Immigration: With Switzerland's election Sunday shifting even more of Europe to the right over immigration, conventional wisdom holds that Europe is turning inward. Don't believe it.
Doom was cried as yet another European state elected a "far right" party Sunday, unseating the embedded socialists from their genteel majority in the Swiss House Of Representatives. Turnout was massive.
The press called Switzerland's shift a voter backlash against immigration. The Swiss right won the majority based on "a hard-hitting campaign that plays on the fears of voters," Germany's Deutsche Presse Agentur kvetched, adding that it was "condemned as racist and xenophobic abroad."
None of this tells the real story.
For starters, the Swiss electoral result is hardly confined to Switzerland.
Over in Britain, the Conservative Party, which opposes open immigration, is rising in the polls for the first time in more than a decade.
In Belgium, immigration is a leading issue in its parliamentary battle to form a new government -- something it has been deadlocked on for past 120 days. The stalemate between French-speaking socialists in the south and their Dutch-speaking conservative countrymen in the north is so strong there's now talk of a national breakup.
But these victories are taking place because European governments have cynically allowed any immigrants into their countries, regardless of how big a burden they impose on the state by soaking up entitlements and committing crimes. Some, as in Belgium, have even legally admitted Islamofascist immigrants in a bid to pad voter rolls. Not surprisingly, they've been casual about illegal immigration and suspect claims for political asylum, too.
The net result: unassimilated and often radical immigrants, soaring welfare rolls and high crime. Such immigrants value their cheaply dispensed citizenship and entitlements at exactly the price they paid for it -- which is zero.
It's easy to call these political forces an inward turn purely against immigrants but it misses other trends in Europe.
The powerful rightward surges now seen in Europe are occurring in areas with the strongest economic growth.
Western France, northern Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark are all business-friendly regions and sub-regions focused on free trade. Contrary to the rhetoric of the left, they welcome legal immigrants.
In France, Nicolas Sarkozy's strongest base of voter support is in France's trade-friendly industrial west, out on the Alsace border with Germany, and along France's southern corridor near northern Italy. In some of these areas, Sarkozy, running with a promise to deport illegal immigrants, won as much as 80% of the vote last May.
In Belgium, the industrious and economically growing Flemish north, linked by strong ties to its dynamic Dutch cousins, is the driving force moving Belgium rightward. It too opposes the indiscriminate immigration and cheaply bestowed citizenship favored by the Brussels elite.
All economically strong areas require immigrants to keep the growth coming, so it's inconceivable this was purely a question of xenophobia. What this is really about is a debate and verdict about what kind of immigrant should be allowed in -- and about controlling borders.
What the rightward-leaning areas want is legal immigration that asks immigrants to invest and contribute, instead of pad the welfare rolls.
"I'm in favor of foreigners who live and work here and are well integrated because we need immigrants," a Swiss voter told SwissInfo. The rest of Europe is joining him.
Source: Investor's Business Daily