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Dear Europe, we are sorry.
While my mother has often held the opinion that "voting only encourages them", let me say this - democracy is not a spectator sport.
Europe has spent the last week in turmoil as, in the recent European elections, France - one of the founder nations of the EU, we should note - elected by majority vote (of around 25%) the National Front.
Yes, one of the founders of the EU has given the most power to EU-things to a party whose very purpose is to tell the EU exactly where it can go stick itself.
Now, the first thing to consider in the midst of this insanity is that the EU has so utterly failed to engage people that voter turnout was less than fifty percent. So let's just assume that one person in four bothered to vote. Of that, the National Front was propelled into prime position in the halls of the EU with a vote of 25%. A quarter of four is one. So of the population, all the chaos was caused by a mere 10%(ish). Or one in ten people. The figures are not completely accurate, I think voter turnout was something like 45% which would mean some horrible fraction from 12%, the basic principle is the same. The people who don't think Europe really affects them didn't bother to vote, so we heard the voices of those who do have some sort of interest in the future of the EU, and not necessarily a shining happy future, at that.
For the record, we (my mother and I) both voted. And since all the officialdom is saying that you really should not take "selfies" during the voting, it seemed like sufficient encouragement to... take a selfie while voting. Yup, I voted for the Greens. José Bové FTW!
Now the problem with Le Pen and the National Front is that they have a certain appeal. They don't offer useless excuses like mainstream political parties. They don't even offer anything that resembles a cohesive solution. What they are good at is offering up scapegoats and witches to burn. Pretty much the entire National Front philosophy can be summed up as "if there's something wrong, it's a stinking useless foreigner what did it".
I can actually see the attraction of this to an older generation struggling to understand the world changing around them. The solution seems so simple, kick out all the foreigners, set France back to how it was in the '80s, and things will seem normal again. Well, that might have worked thirty-odd years ago, but it isn't going to work now. The world has changed. For better and for worse.
The second attraction is when you see an increase in lawlessness that is easy to pin on "Roms" and "gypos". Of course, just this week a "traveller" was led out of our local supermarket in the arms of the gendarmes for failing to swipe a bottle of booze (then chucking it in a futile attempt to deny ever having it) - so it is so so easy to just assume that everybody "from Romania" (or the evil-country-du-jour) is a thief, and worse. The issue comes unstuck when you dig a little and find out that crime is committed by natives too. And why? Well, it is much like the English riots a few summers back. Pretty much "because they can". A nearby town used to have a gendarmerie. That was closed due to cutbacks. The boys in blue have to come out from... well, it doesn't really matter where. It's just not near. Countryside policing has received cutback after cutback and people wonder why crime rates rise. Well, duh. It's the stinking useless foreigners what did it.
The third attraction is certain places that do have an immigration problem, from illegal camps in the north to illegal entry down south, organised crime from the east, and all the usual problems. This, in part, is due to the EU's policy on people and movement not having much of a cohesive policy on how to deal with people who are not wanted, how to process them, and how to return them home in a manner efficient to the host country. Perhaps the biggest example of this is a certain Islamic Cleric who made an absolute mockery of the British and Theresa May. Perhaps the EU has to accept the fact that freedom of movement may be a nice idea in principle, but it falls apart when it becomes abused, and God knows there are plenty of people who are willing to work a loophole if they see it. This is not to say that the principle should be abandoned, but rather that a host country should have more rights to tell new arrivals to go away - and any appeals should be held with them having returned, not the other way around or the system will collapse - as is happening right now. Obviously this won't work in cases of people seeking asylum from war-torn countries, so there needs to be some sort of flexibility, plus a way to try to sort out those who are running from their lives from those who just see Europe as some sort of El Dorado.
So now the EU has to work out what it is going to do to re-engage itself with the electorate, especially after some dubious economic policy, when an important country in the EU has elected representives from a party who find it easier to destroy than to create. I suppose I ought to mention the UK's UKIP successes, but Europe has probably given up on caring about whether the UK thinks it is in or out this week. There are more important issues to worry about.
For what it is worth - the gains of the National Front is not a sentiment shared by everybody. Indeed, the website "deareuropewearesorry.eu" is brief and to the point. Here is a screenshot of it:
That's all it says.
That's all it needs to say.
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|Alexander, 2nd June 2014, 06:51|
We can argue forever about this one. Let me just give the example of a country you have fond feelings for - Japan. The reason why it is one of the safest countries in the world is exactly because it is monocultural: 98% Japanese. Not even the most eloquent supporter of globalization can deny that. Of course their typical insular policy will likely worsen their society aging problem, but currently they seem to be getting the best of the globalization without receiving the worst of it (Europe is doing the exact opposite).
Also, I come from one of those "gypos" countries and I can assure you that no one west of Danube has any good understanding about the specifics of the problem in full. The third solution you propose with the selective mobility is only a solution for one of the sides, not for the other. Not to mention it is condescending within the context of "freedom, equality, opportunities" and all that jazz.
Obviously globalization can't be stopped in its current form, but you can't really blame people for being backwards. I myself live away from my home country, but I truly believe that multiculturalism can't work in a place like Europe; it's only suited for countries like USA, Canada, maybe Australia, which are born from this perspective and approach it differently.
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