A question from the Austrian election.

political-map-of-europe-lgI’m writing this before the final result of the Austrian presidential election is known. In truth, the result, whatever it is, doesn’t change my question: what do the anti-immigrant hard-right voters actually want?

At the heart of their demands is, I suspect, a fundamental paradox. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that hard-right national governments across Europe will take measures to prevent immigrants entering their countries. Increased border security, fencing, more actual physical barriers to entry into their respective countries. It’ll also have the added benefit of looking good for their voters, governments finally abandoning weak-minded “liberal” policies  amidst scenes of tough soldiers and border guards battling immigrants on their borders. Add to that the populist benefit of telling Brussels to f**k off. All good stuff.

But look at a map of modern Europe and see if you can spot a problem.

It doesn’t work. If every EU country decides to go its own way, and secure its border in the hope of redirecting immigrants on somewhere else, it means spending billions, yes billions, on border security. You know all that money people complain will go to housing refugees, educating them, integrating them? It all gets spent on trying to secure borders instead.

Just look at a map of Austria. Or Switzerland, or France, or Germany. We’re not talking border posts. We’re talking East Germany, with East German levels of expenditure. We’re talking thousands and thousands of patrolled alarmed fences with massively increased security forces on both sides of friendly borders turning a blind eye if someone tries to get over your border into somewhere else. Think the Italians are going to just shrug their shoulders and carry the burden for the rest of Europe? Or Greece? Why would they? Would the rest of us? This is a European problem.

That’s all assuming, by the way, that the refugees just stop at a border. What if thousands of them try to rush the borders? Are Austrian police and soldiers going to mow down women and children with machine guns? Think the Waldheim years were bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

That’s before, by the way, that we even consider the economic cost of what sealing every continental border to a trickle will do for cross-border trade, the life blood of this continent.

This is certified madness. The only way Europeans can secure and manage immigration, as we have a right to do, is to spend a lot of money on an external border control force, and on a secure off-continent location where we can safely house and process refugees. That is the solution, not electing a bunch of pandering populist hucksters.

One thought on “A question from the Austrian election.

  1. The Freedom Party in Austria is a right-wing party like AfD in Germany or Fidesz in Hungary, and and not a ‘hard right’ or ‘far right’ party as often expressed, like Jobbik in Hungary or Golden Dawn in Greece.

    Expecting the citizens of these countries to have worked out the mathematics of the scenario you have outlined above is like detailing ourselves in Ireland to have calculated the mechanics of running a better and efficacious health service. The people elect politicians to get on with the job and not to have to write the policy themselves…

    What hasn’t escaped the population in countries where right wing parties are beginning to get traction is that the agenda setting class are themselves relatively unaffected by the policies they are presiding over. For example, in countries where immigration now accounts for a significant amount of the population; the media, justice system, civil service and politicians are almost entirely indigenous. It also hasn’t escaped public notice that many practitioners of these professions then retreat to homes that are themselves surrounded by walls and controlled by electronic gates, thus secluding them from the effects of the ideas they promulgate…

    Believe me when real ‘hard or far right’ parties do emerge in these countries, we’ll know alright…

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