Ukraine is forgotten as European anti-immigrant politicians fight for power

After the crisis in Ukraine prompted many European countries to adopt an unusually generous stance towards arriving refugees, politicians skeptical of migrants are finding their voices again in a flurry of electoral maneuvers at home.

Italy is set to elect a right-wing government in snap elections next month, which would not only toughen the country’s stance on Mediterranean boat crossings, but push for a tougher line from the Union European as a whole.

The two rivals to be Britain’s next prime minister are each trying to be tougher than the other on migration, with one hoping to extend the controversial Rwanda deal and the other suggesting leaving asylum seekers on cruise ships.

In France, a radical minister seen as a possible successor to Emmanuel Macron as president has championed a bill to deport foreigners if they fail to conform to French values.

And in Sweden, which is dealing with an epidemic of gang crime that some politicians blame on failed integration policies, immigration is an issue at the forefront of a general election campaign entering its final weeks.

Italy

An election on September 25 could bring to power a far-right coalition made up of the skeptical parties of the Brothers of Italy and the League and the party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Both far-right parties took advantage of a summer rush of migrants to Lampedusa, a Mediterranean island at the southern tip of Italy, to push their anti-migrant policies after snap elections were called.

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers in Italy who this week sought to steer her party away from its neo-fascist heritage, called for a “naval blockade” to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.

The League, led by former interior minister Matteo Salvini, who made a name for himself as a hard-liner on immigration during his tenure, promises that “border control will be back “if he comes to power.

At a recent campaign stop in Lampedusa, Mr Salvini said he would not accept Italy being ‘Europe’s refugee camp’ – setting up a potential battle with Europe’s neighbors Italy if he resumes his duties.

“A right-wing Italian government would loudly demand that other countries take in a large part of the migrants who arrive in Italy,” said Luigi Scazzieri, an expert on Italy and the EU at the Center for European Reform. The National.

“In general, a right-wing government in Italy would reinforce the current orientation of EU migration policy aimed at preventing migrants from reaching Europe in the first place, through operational cooperation with countries like Libya, Morocco and Turkey, and trying to get those back. migrants who arrive in Europe but whose asylum application is rejected.

Britain

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the two rival candidates for the head of Britain, have both said that the policy of deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda will remain in place despite criticism from the UN, the Church of England and the civil service.

Far from avoiding the idea, a source in Ms Truss’s campaign sought to give her credit, saying she was working closely with Home Secretary Priti Patel to “formulate Rwandan policy that defines the generation”.

But both have promised to go further. Ms Truss said she would pursue similar deals with countries other than Rwanda – although Turkey has rejected the idea that she could be one of them.

Border force personnel would increase by 20% under a Truss government and the number of maritime officers would double, his campaign said, as reforms are considered for the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Sunak’s camp has floated the idea that asylum seekers could be accommodated on cruise ships off the British coast, instead of being accommodated in hotels at public expense.

It was part of a 10-point plan that also calls for a stricter definition of asylum, pressuring other countries to take back deportees, and a favorite crowd-pleaser tactic: saying the French to pull themselves together.

But the Truss campaign hit back at the cruise ship idea by suggesting it would violate international law and was not “based on reality”.

British rescuers help migrants off a boat after being picked up trying to cross the English Channel.  AFP

France

Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government lost its majority in the June legislative elections and must either work with a hostile left or cooperate with the right and far right to form majorities in parliament.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is widely believed to have another political calculus in mind – the prospect of running for president in 2027 when Mr Macron will be ineligible for a third term.

Mr. Darmanin is on a war footing against illegal immigration, with proposals to ensure that deportations do not get bogged down in court and double prison sentences for smugglers of 10 to 20 years.

One catchy idea was to make a residence permit conditional on acceptance of French values, such as secularism and equality between men and women, as well as adequate French language skills.

“Today, foreigners represent 7% of the French population and commit 19% of criminal acts. To refuse to see it is simply to deny reality,” he said. Le Figaro.

But he said in the same interview that a new immigration bill would be shelved for the time being during the consultation, after reports that some members of Mr Macron’s party were wary of the idea.

The far-right National Rally was not happy with Mr. Darmanin’s efforts. “The immigration bill he bragged about is already falling apart,” party spokesman Laurent Jacobelli said.

Gérald Darmanin, behind French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he should succeed in 2027, during a campaign stop in April.  AFP

Sweden

Sweden votes for a new parliament on September 11, with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson seeking a full term after taking over as leader of a fragile Social Democrat-led coalition last year.

She survived a messy confidence vote partly because other MPs were ready allow a right-wing coalition to come to power with the participation of Sweden’s far-right, anti-immigration Democrats.

One of Ms Andersson’s main campaign arguments is to ‘break segregation’ to tackle the gang underworld that has plagued Sweden with violent crime in recent years – an issue she has linked to the failure of integration policies.

Sweden Democrats, who explicitly blame immigration for increased crime, want to end all asylum applications from outside Sweden’s “immediate area” and tighten migration rules “in strictest level possible under EU law”.

“Sweden’s immigration policy should always be more restrictive than that of our neighboring countries or any other EU country,” says a party platform.

Centre-right moderates, second in the polls behind Ms Andersson’s party, have called for new language requirements for residence permits and compulsory pre-school education for children who do not speak Swedish.#

Gang crime blamed on the failure of integration policies by some politicians is at the center of the Swedish election campaign.  PA

Updated: August 12, 2022, 6:00 p.m.