The rise of anti-immigration in Europe


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Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far right French party, the National Front. Recent polls show they have overcome the leading liberal party, the LREM.

Ryan Leal, Webmaster

Immigration, especially from Central America as well as the Middle East has been a staple of recent policy conflict in the United States. Europe is seeing a rise in Anti-Immigration ideologies on a far greater scale than that of America. The idea of turning people in need down is sickening. There are thousands of refugees in need, and there are people turning them down. Looking deeper into such situations show no real negative impact of migrants.

Throughout this piece I will ignore the opposition to immigration based on culture and national identity and focus on its economic impact, or lack thereof.

There are two things to consider: One is the people who are immigrating – this is not a problem. The second is the far right parties tapping into the fears and anxieties people may have about immigrants  of in order to get votes.

First, take an example source of immigrants into Europe, the Refugee Crisis. Many from Syria and Afghanistan migrate to all over Europe, including large numbers in Germany and Hungary. In some countries there are large percentages of Asylum applicants per inhabitants of the country, including Germany and Sweden.

Economic asylum is a major reason for a lot of migrants, and although this is fairly intuitive, it seems to be a point of confusion for many with anti-immigrant views. For one, the statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that the 70% of the increased workforce in Europe, accounted for by migrants, has become crucial for maintaining many European nations’ GDPs over the last ten years.

Now looking into the groups supporting these ideologies, it becomes quite clear that facts and supporting evidence don’t sway these beliefs, or those with these beliefs don’t have clear rebuttals. But interestingly, a study by the American Political Science Review showed that Hungarian adults were less likely to vote with racist intentions after playing role-playing games that are intended to put them into the perspective of refugees. This is one of many studies done by the APSR, along with the Annual Review of Political Science which has observed little to no correlation between anti-immigration ideologies and immigration’s actual effects on an individual’s personal economic situation. Despite this, many major Eastern country’s leadership has been shifting to the right, with an aim at immigration.

In Germany, the far-right AfD party had about 11% of the vote, and are known for advancing fear in Germans over the Islam faith as well as blaming immigration to Germany as a clear economic threat, all though no clear evidence supports this. They have seen the most popularity in East Germany, formerly a Soviet communist region.

In France, the efforts of leaders such as Marine Le Pen have focused on blaming the EU for mass immigration and opposing the Euro. Although her far right party, the National Front/National Rally lost the 2017 election, polls put them ahead over the current office holder, Emmanuel Macron’s liberal party, the LREM.