Europeans on the Right and Left, United in Hating Immigrants - OZY | A Modern Media Company


It’s an issue that’s not going away anytime soon — in the U.S. or in Europe. 

Anti-immigration sentiments ran high across Europe this spring — something that showed its face clearly during last week’s European Parliament elections. It’s the right-wing parties who are more likely to favor tighter borders instead of the supranational pan-Europeanism sweeping the continent: think the UK’s UKIP, France’s National Front and Greece’s notorious Golden Dawn (going so far as to be full-on neo-Nazi). 

But as a new poll from the Pew Research Center shows, it’s not just the radical right who take issue with immigrants, and even some minorities. 

In Italy, 69 percent of those polled say “immigrants are a burden because they take jobs and social benefits.” In Greece, 70 percent think that. 

And in both countries, a majority of the left agree. That’s right: in the birthplace of humanity (and colonialism), even those who consider themselves more liberal believe immigrants are a burden. The same goes for Poland too, where leftists are more likely than their right-leaning brethren to hold immigration concerns by an 8 percent margin. 

In 2012 Germany welcomed the greatest influx of immigrants of all the EU countries: 40,000 people, most coming from elsewhere in Europe, according to the Financial Times. It’s thanks to Germany’s strong economy — and the rest of the continent’s struggles. And though it seems like it’s good politics to balk at the influx of foreigners, experts say in some areas (we’ll leave Greece aside here) they bring much-needed employable skills and a youthful vigor to an aging working populace. 

So how will this play out? 

One pundit says the EU desperately needs a new immigration policy. But with voter turnout expected to sink well below the 50 percent mark, right-wing parties gaining popularity, and a 751-member house of government, the chances of resolution still seem slim. 

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