The anti-immigrant policy gains made in recent months look likely to continue.
Europe's mainstream political parties are engaged in a worsening feud
over how to deal with the growing power of extreme rightwing
anti-immigrant movements. Amid a backlash against immigration that has
shaken Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden
in recent months, governments of the centre-right or centre-left appear
at a loss to counter the appeal of extremist populists who have moved
from the madcap fringes of national politics into government, or
propping up minority centrist coalitions.
A liberals-led coalition has just taken office in the Netherlands
dependent on the parliamentary support of Geert Wilders, Europe's
leading Islam-baiter. In Denmark,
another liberals-led government also relies on the anti-immigrant
nationalists of the Danish People's Party for survival. Last week, the
DPP won a tightening of the most draconian immigration laws in Europe in
return for agreeing to the government's budget for next year.
Alarmed at the growing appeal of the far right,
leaders of the centre-right and centre-left are struggling to form a
coherent response. Attempts to construct a cross-party European
anti-extremism pact are falling victim to the expediencies of national
politics. "This is becoming a very hot political issue," said a
spokesman for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a large
grouping in the European parliament.