WASHINGTON – A center-right coalition led by former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s Liberal Party just won the elections in Denmark. This victory is largely due to the anti-immigrant sentiments that coalesced on the Danish People Party (DF) led by Kristian Thulesen Dahl, an ally of the Liberal Party. Indeed, popular support for the DF party moved from 12.3% in the last elections to 21.1%.
Too many immigrants
Many Danes, the elderly in particular, bought the party’s anti-immigrant platform. (Foreign born residents now make up about 9% of a population of 5.7 million in Denmark). The message during the campaign was that too much money is spent to accommodate immigrants. Social services for Danes have to be cut on account of all these new expenditures. True or false, it does not matter. In politics in particular, perception is reality. At least some Danes believe that there are too many immigrants in their country.
The Hungarians think the same. They are now planning to construct physical barriers at the border to prevent asylum seekers to get in. France recently closed a border with Italy to prevent African immigrants now in Italy to come to France. Britain does not want to accept a mandatory quota of asylum seekers.
Italy is in the front line
Financially and economically weak Italy is in major trouble. On account of its geographic proximity to Northern Africa, the Italian peninsula is the most easily reachable EU country for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and war-torn Middle East. And so they come. And they keep coming. Thousands, every month.
All the way up north, the Danes may be able to shield themselves a bit better. As for other southern European countries, I doubt it. The Europeans may try whatever they want to discourage illegal immigrants; but in the end they do not have the stomach to deny access and/or asylum to all these poor people streaming in, practically every day.
Sure enough, there are populists who issue fiery messages, often threatening violent actions against immigrants. And there have been several incidents of beatings and killings. But I do not see comprehensive drastic policies ordered by governments.
No drastic actions will be taken
I do not see the Italian Government ordering the Italian Navy or Coast Guard to ram or shoot at vessels carrying large loads of Africans with the intent to sink them, this way killing everybody on board, before they reach the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa or the coast of Sicily.
And quite frankly, short of that –the credible threat that all such vessels carrying immigrants will be sunk, yes, even with women and children on board– the gangsters who get paid large sums to ferry poor people to Italy will have no incentive to stop their lucrative business. Right now, whatever individual European governments or the EU may say, the would be immigrants know that they will not be forced to go back. Once the land in Italy, they will stay.
Therefore, guided by despair and their hopes for a better life in Europe, they take their chances on often overloaded, ancient vessels that sometimes do sink, on their own, killing everybody on board.
What all this means
Well, beyond the human tragedy of so many displaced people desperately trying to get a new life, what does all this mean? It means that this constant stream of immigrants soon enough will change the ethnic composition of Europe. Most European states have extremely low fertility rates. This means declining populations. The new immigrants into Europe, especially Southern Europe, are mostly Africans. Therefore, in the long run, Europe’s population will become heavily mixed, and eventually, assuming the continuation of this wave, mostly African.
Unskilled immigrants drain resources
In principle there should be nothing to worry about immigration. But in this case, there is a problem. Most of the immigrants landing in Europe from Africa are illiterate. As such, they have no skills and they cannot be employed in any activity that requires numeracy, computer knowledge, and the like. Therefore, at least for many years, even assuming that most of them will get an education, (and this is a rosy assumption), they will be unable to add to the pool of valuable and productive workers.
In fact, they will drain resources. Not to mention those who will turn to crime just to get by. Newly arrived refugees, as the Danish DF politicians pointed out, need housing, medical attention, some subsidies, language training, and a lot more. Europe is on balance much better off than Libya or Syria. But it is not swimming in wealth. Ask the Italians. Italy has practically zero growth, and more than 12% unemployment. In the South, (that’s where the immigrants from Africa land), youth unemployment is about 40%.
Muslims in Christian countries
Add to all this the strong uneasiness felt by so many when contemplating this endless stream of mostly poor Muslims settling in European countries that, although now secular, at least in general terms come from a Christian tradition.