The brits actually voted to leave the Europen union! Brexit was a populist and nationalistic rhetoric some years ago. It was headed by the Ukip-party founded in the 90s for this very purpose.
Yet, Brexit gradually descended upon the main political scene. It started serving as fodder for interparty strife and personal rivalry among the Torys. Ukip also benefited enormously from this turning. No one knows for sure what Brexit will entail, except long and bureaucratic negotiations. And that David Cameron now intends to step down as prime minister. The EU, the brits and the world try to keep calm and carry on. Nevertheless, the distorting of facts and groundless accusations against the EU as a main culprit shows a flourishing nationalism. And the problem is not only prevalent in the UK.
Everywhere in the EU one sees the thriving of nationalist-populist parties electing both the EU and asylum seekers as major foes and threats. As if campaigning against the Catholic church and the milkman with equal vigour. In Hungary, the right wing extremist Victor Orban is leading a government that wants to refuse all asylum seekers. Or at least all who are not of Christian faith. But religion is hardly essential for such paranoid outlook. Flaunting France´s secular legacy, Front national and Marine le Pen wants to strip citizenship from Frenchmen who are of foreign origin and commit serious crimes. However, this would be in breach of fundamental rights protected under the European Convention of human rights.
Meanwhile, the rickety and unseaworthy boats keep coming in from Libya and elsewhere, trying to cross the Mediterranean. Some say over a million asylum seekers are patiently waiting on the shores of Libya to cross when they get a chance. By June 2016, an estimated 55 000 had made the journey across the Mediterranean route, mainly arriving in Greece and Italy. That is, those who could make it and be saved in mid-ocean by the coast guards and aiding vessels. A staggering 2800 is considered missing or drowned by June.
And the nationalists are worried sick. Close to one million asylum seekers sought protection in Germany last year. Although this puts strain on the German asylum system, this cannot be thought all negative. It is evident that many of these can contribute more to the German economy than being a burden… (a study shows that…..)…. But even in Germany one sees the political troll of nationalism rising. Merkel´s inviting hand to refugees have stirred not so generous attitudes. The infamous Pegida-movement has held large scale demonstrations. And a new nationalist populist party called Alternative for Deutschland (AFD) is rising steadily in the polls and state elections. For example, in the Saxony-Anhalt State election in March ADF arrived second with 24 %. Though eastern parts of Germany have long been more resentful against immigrants, the nationalistic mare is riding countrywide. Overtly xenophobic, the AFD party echoes disgraceful aspects of Germany´s past.
However, it is strange that the nationalist populist parties should be such bitter enemies of the EU. The EU has recently shown that it can be very unwelcoming to people fleeing war and persecution. The EU-Turkey deal went into effect as of March 2016, and has been highly criticized by Human rights organizations. The deal involves returning asylum seekers who have crossed the Mediterrenean from Turkey to Greece, the so called eastern route. Turkey will be obliged to accept all returnees from Greece. The EU on its part will accept back from Turkey one Syrian national asylum seeker for every one received from the EU. This is strange human bartering. According to many legal experts it is in breach of fundamental individual human rights.
Last year a great influx of asylum seekers reached Europe. As many as 1,3 million, compared to 500 000 in 2014. EU-states such as Hungary effectively sealed off their borders and refused refugees at their doorstep. This also violates fundamental human rights obligations. The EU looks on and makes its own shadowy arrangements. It may seem that the EU and the nationalists do a happy little merry-go-round at present.