Hungary

Hungary to be stripped of its EU voting rights?

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The EU is voting to strip Hungary of its EU voting rights for consistent failure to heed their values, including migrant quotas. Last year an apathetic turnout to a referendum held on the subject said 98.4% of Hungarians were against forced migrant quotas. Putting to one side the altruism of the EU, trying to force a member state to tow the line is absurd, not so much for the country but the migrants.

Let’s not forget this is the EU making up for Merkel’s single-handed poorly executed thought bubble in the first place. She put forward a come one come all rhetoric on her own.

In a sense the EU can rant on all it likes about humanitarism (although 80% are economic refugees (i.e. not fleeing war zones) according to figures by Eurostat) but forcing asylum seekers into a country that doesn’t want them doesn’t seem optimal. We can snigger at Hungary and call them bigoted, racist or worse but the fact of the  matter is migrants on the whole won’t be welcome.

The EU forcing unwanted guests to a Hungarian dinner table has obvious consequences. The embittered host is likely to ruin the goulash and spoil the palatschinke in an attempt to get the visitors to leave.  Many are unaware the third largest political party in Hungary is Jobbik (won 21% of seats in the 2014 election) which has all the hallmarks of Roehm’s SA, right down to the uniforms. Jobbik has a record of roughing up Jews, Gypsies and Roma so before Brussels tells Budapest it must accept migrant quotas perhaps an assessment of the reality would be wise. Jobbik is left to do its ruffian business and Hungarian authorities turn a blind eye. That is the bigger issue at sort before imposing quotas.

Surely if refugees were asked Hungary is the last place they want to go after leaving their homeland. Refugees aren’t cattle but the EU is treating them so. Aren’t they surprised when the majority seek Germany as the end destination because of the relative generosity? Do the EU authorities think these migrants don’t have excellent internal information networks? Of course they do.

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To rachet this down a notch what are EU values anyway? The Brits are leaving because they don’t agree with EU values. The Greeks are being trodden on for refusing to accept EU austerity values. The Austrians were threatened with sanctions and punishment if they democratically voted in a right wing president. Are these worthy values? The Swiss handed back a 30 year free pass to join the EU presumably because they didn’t believe in EU values. The list goes on.

Sometimes it is had not to think of the EU as the Gallactic Senate from Star Wars trying to get aliens from different galaxies to agree on everything.

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We all know how unwelcome visitors are treated in the Star Wars Bar when different backgrounds and cultures literally don’t see eye to eye. The EU would do well to respect the diversity of its members, which includes diversity of thought and culture. It is not to say the EU doesn’t have a point from time to time they are dreadful executors of it.

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Over 10.6 million Frogs want to jump out of the EU’s boiling pot

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While the media and the EU will no doubt be jumping for joy they’ll overlook the fact that over 1/3rd of the French who voted, or over 10.6 million, want to jump out of the EU’s boiling pot. Think about that number – over TEN POINT SIX MILLION.  Le Pen’s father only managed slightly better than 5mn or 17.8%. Macron won convincingly (Twitter follower growth ratio accurate again) although one can hardly call 1/3rd of a population backing a far-right nationalist something to celebrate.  It is a damning figure. Period.

The extent of the Le Pen gains should be viewed by the EU as a terrible omen. However many of the Brussels brigadiers have ignored it already as their tweets make painfully clear.

After losing 15 out of 15 referendums against it  the EU desperately needs reform. The Dutch election was still a strong win for Wilders and Rutte only saved seats by adopting a more anti-EU stance. The pro-EU Dutch leftists were slayed. The Swiss recently handed back their long standing invite to join the EU. The Austrians almost voted in the far right FPO and after Greens President van der Bellen recently said all women may be obliged to wear the hijab to show cultural sensitivity they may well think to do that next time. The right wing Sweden Democrats are well ahead in the polls looking to win the 2018 election. The Italians are on the way to vote in the eurosceptic M5S party as their referendum last year on parliamentary reform became a free kick to boot out the establishment. Hungary’s Orban has had enough of the EU’s directives on migrants. Greece is being forced to sell its assets in order to secure another bailout and submit to being a Brussels’ (Berlin?) protectorate despite the EU bending over backwards with the help of Goldman’s creative accountants to get the Greeks into the club. This will not end well as Greece has 37% poverty, 58% youth unemployment and a soaring suicide rate. Now almost 10.5mn French now think the EU is not working. Brexit anyone?

The problem with elections is that even though Macron will serve 5 years, over 1/3rd of his citizens are not happy with the state of terrorism, unemployment and the EU. If Macron doesn’t solve for these problems, Le Pen’s 2022 chances grow and she’s already calling for a radical overhaul of Front National.

The press was making Macron to be a tough negotiator on Brexit. Let’s not forget that the ranting Jean-Claude Juncker has had to be brought into line by Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk over his Brexit negotiations skills (or lack there of). EU lawyers have said the other day that the  €100bn Brexit bill has no legitimacy. The U.K. Local council elections should speak volumes of May’s mandate to pursue full strength hard Brexit.

Macron’s win buys the EU time. Nothing else. In fact the truest test of how petrified the EU truly is can be summed up like this. If they were supremely confident in their own legitimacy there would be no need for the constant self-reaffirmation and shouting from the roof tops about what a great place it is. If indeed it was so, democracy would endorse them every time. As it stands the self-praise would even make Barack Obama blush.

When electoral maps speak much more than 1,000 words you’ll clearly get the picture

One thing that has struck me when looking at before and after electoral maps it is the clear signs of the growing divide of the haves and have nots. Of course people vote but imagine if land mass was the decider it would be a no contest. It is almost as if there is a bubonic plague spreading throughout many nations, especially Europe.

FRANCE (2017)- Le Pen’s first round in Dark Blue, Melenchon in Red, Macron in Grey

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FRANCE (2002) Presidential first round (Jean Marie Le Pen in Dark Blue, Jacques Chirac light blue and Lionel Jospin in Pink

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BREXIT (2016)- in blue – how many Labour safe areas turned against the party  line

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UK election (1997) – Labour Party (Red), Tory (Blue)

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ITALY (2016)- referendum – the redder the stronger the NO vote (generally denotes poorer areas of Italy)

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USA (2016)- Trump’s GOP in Red

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USA (2008) – Obama in Blue, McCain in Red

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AUSTRIA (2017) – Presidential election – Right wing Hofer in Blue, Socialist van der Bellen in green (the winner)

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HUNGARIAN REFERENDUM ON MIGRANTS (2016) – Redder the zone the higher the NO vote

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THE NETHERLANDS (2017) – election – Wilders’ VVD in blue

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History of Dutch elections – VVD (Wilders) in blue

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What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration?

img_0254The majority of Europeans polled by a Chatham House survey of more than 10,000 people from 10 European states threw light on what people think about migration from mainly Muslim countries. It showed overwhelmingly that they want further Muslim immigration stopped. Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed. It ranged from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the UK and 41% in Spain. Those that disagreed with the idea failed to go over 32% (Spain) with the bulk in the 10-20% range. So while the press went full rage against Trump’s temporary ban it seems many Europeans agree with him. In Austria, Poland, Hungary, France and Belgium over 38% of respondents “strongly agreed” to stop more immigration. By  gender, age and education we see that the results show a skew. Males more for the proposal than women but over 50% for both. Only 18-29yo failed to have a majority but more in favour than not. The older  those surveyed the more in favour of the ban. Is it that they are bigoted fools or is it their experience on the planet that leads them to this conclusion. Those with less than a post grad diploma voted in the majority in favour while undergraduates and above only reached 48% but much higher than the 27% against. Rural towns were more in favour than city folk.

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UKIP MEP Nigel Farage said to the EU Parliament yesterday,

“I feel like I am attending a meeting of a religious sect here this morning. It’s as if the global revolution of 2016, Brexit, Trump, the Italian rejection of the referendum, has completely bypassed you.

You can’t face up to the fact that this bandwagon is going to roll across Europe in these elections in 2017. A lot of citizens now recognize this form of centralized government simply doesn’t work. … At the heart of it is a fundamental point: Mr. [name not recognized] this morning said, the people want more Europe.

They don’t. The people want less Europe. We see this again and again when people have referendums and they reject aspects of EU membership. But something more fundamental is going on out there. …. No doubt, many of you here will probably despise your own voters for what I am about to say because just last week, Chatham House, the reputable group, published a massive survey from 10 Europen states, and only 20% of people want immigration from Muslim countries to continue. Just 20%. … Which means your voters have a harder line position on this than Donald Trump, or myself, or frankly any party sitting in this Parliament. I simply cannot believe you are blind to the fact that even Mrs. Merkel has now made a u-turn and wants to send people back. Even Mr. Schulz thinks it is a good idea.

And the fact is, the Europen Union has no future at all in its current form. And I suspect you are in for as big a shock in 2017 as you were in 2016.”

I don’t buy the premise that this is all down to bigoted views. I honestly think that the sharp rise in poverty since 2009 is driving people’s fears of sustainable financial security. I wrote the same about Trump and why he’d win for over a year, despite being laughed at. Take Eurostat’s latest figures on poverty across the EU. Although there has been a minor improvement between 2013-14 across the EU-28 (mainly due to inter-EU transfers) many countries including Germany, Spain, Greece, France and Belgium saw poverty rates grow.

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This is what poverty looked like in 2005 and 2007 across EU. I added in the 2014 figures to show clearly how poverty has risen in EVERY country since that time. The UK has jumped from 16% to 23%. Italy from 20% to 28%. Germany 14% to 21%. France 13% to 18%. Is it any wonder right wing parties are gaining traction from socialist governments who think they are going to win the battle by sharing in the pain. Gimme a break. People are already bleeding but EU parliamentarians think it is just a flesh wound.

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However let us suppose that it is all down to racist, bigoted intolerance. If you were an asylum seeker why would you want to have the EU divvy you up into countries that ‘especially’ don’t want you period. Hungary held a referendum where c.95% of those that voted against forced immigration. What prospects would you have in Budapest when citizens are so open about their unwillingness to accept? Canada on the other hand believes diversity makes it stronger so why don’t EU countries subsidise Canada to take more if they think it is a great deal. A better use of the 90mn euro being proposed by Merkel to get those asylum seekers not in any danger to go home.

Should these citizens by punished for holding a negative view given what they see and experience in their daily lives? Then again don’t blame citizens for holding these views when governments downplay or try to hide facts surrounding terrorist attacks, rapes, sexual assaults and acts of violence committed by migrants. Yes, citizens commit crimes too but when German women are told to dress more appropriately to avoid attracting unsolicited attention or well-intentioned residents charged with violating privacy laws for releasing a video of migrant thugs kicking an innocent woman down subway stairs, the people will seek their own security first. German vigilantism is up sharp double digits because the authorities are too ashamed to admit what a failure their policy has been.

The German police have reported a significant increase in far-left violence nationwide in 2015, with politically motivated left-wing crimes jumping 18 percent to 9,600. The refugee influx is a root cause with far-right groups have reacting violently and far-left groups attacking them in response. In January this year 211 far-right extremists were arrested for hosting an anti-refugee rally in Leipzig complaining Chancellor Merkel is ruining their homeland after the cover up after the new year sexual assaults in Cologne.

The Interior Ministry revealed that 39,000 (+19%YoY) politically motivated crimes were committed in 2015, with 23,000 having a far right motive. Crimes against refugees have soared from 199 in 2014 to over 1,000 in 2015. German courts are also doling out multi €1,000+ fines for online racial taunts. Pegida’s founder Lutz Bachmann, was ordered to pay €9,600 for describing refugees as ‘cattle’

Of course not all asylum seekers are bad but it is in their long term best interests to push for more vigilance by governments to ensure the actions of a few bad apples doesn’t spoil the rest of those who really want to have a fresh start and give back to their community.

I (reluctantly) watched the Australian ABC Q&A program which is often a tax-payer funded melting-pot of regressive politics. Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie fired off at the Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied about how Sharia Law will never happen under her watch and that Australian law is all that matters. She also made points about why she supported Trump’s proposals. Now I am not really a big fan of Jacqui Lambie on most things but I thought she was spot on and the audience surprisingly cheered. Abdel-Magied tried to sound sanctimonious over Lambie’s improper understanding of Sharia law and her uneducated views on the treatment of women in Islamic culture but she was having none of it and closed with “stop playing the victim, your ban got lifted, get over it.”

Instead of taking the point to heart, Muslim leaders, academics and activists are demanding the ABC apologise for airing Lambie’s “racist, Islamophobic and crude” views on its Q&A program.  First of all Islam isn’t a race and to accuse the ABC of breaching its own standards (which is the norm) may I suggest they join the back of that long line.

Once again, victimology is never the way to go. If people want to change the aforementioned statistics of EU, America or Australia who show to be in favour of ‘vetting’, understand the cause. Whacking citizens for expressing concerns to deaf politicians is not the way to go. In Australia 18-C racial vilification laws have already shown how easy it is to abuse free speech. In Germany Merkel is cracking down on any form of ‘hate speech’ (as judged by the thought police). In Canada laws are being proposed to protect Muslims. After first passing a motion that condemns Islamophobia, last month, Iqra Khalid, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the governing Liberals, tabled Motion M-103 in the House of Commons. The motion demands that Islamophobia be treated as a crime without even bothering to define the offense. Hang on? What if Christianophobia is prevalent? Will Christians get the same rights if such hate crimes are committed against them? How is that diverse? How does that encourage equality by singling out one religion create tolerance? It beggars belief.

If tolerance and diversity are at the top of the list, where are these Islamic leaders trying to dissuade those who fear them?

You see there in lies the problem. Not only are citizens fearing job security they are now being silenced by acts of law to protest at where they see the problem coming from. As I wrote in ‘Staring at the dictator’  people are growing concerned about how to put food on the table. They see unhinged immigration with poor vetting a terrible recipe for helping them climb out of the trap they are in. The last thing they want is the odds cut. So before we point fingers let us get to grips with the ‘true’ state of the economy. I am willing to bet that if the world’s economy was in full swing, we wouldn’t hear a murmur about citizens wanting to ban particular immigrants.

Quick route to permanent residency in Japan

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I had to wait 10 years to qualify for permanent residency in Japan. The Ministry of Justice is now looking to cut it to ONE. Permanent residency is a privilege not a right and I respect that although in the end I reckon 90% of the decision was based on how much tax I paid. You are required to dole out your past 3 years tax returns as documented evidence. So the fast tracking of permanent residency is only for  senior management, researchers and other value added foreigners. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Japan needs to arrest a sharply declining (working) population but it would be better served with tax breaks and such incentives because that would drive foreign corporations to consider making Tokyo a proper ‘regional hub’ which would not only support jobs but boost the housing market and other tax feathering opportunities.

I am meeting  with politicians here to drive that message but ‘tax reform’ is a taboo word although a Poland style tax reform especially for corporations (70% pay no tax) is being looked into which would be massive.

I will absolutely congratulate Japan for putting its citizens first over foreigners, especially refugees. It might sound cold but this society is completely at odds with flexibility. To be honest as an asylum seeker, Japan is not remotely geared to supporting them when you have a survey showing poverty being the number one concern of people, Japan will look after its citizens first. That’s how it should be. It is not up to the rest of the world to lecture Japan on its culture either. I only wish my country would protect its culture in a similar manner.

To turn the argument on its head, when the EU tries to forcibly redirect 1000s of refugees to Hungary which had a referendum with 98% (albeit a 45% turnout) saying they didn’t want them, have Juncker et al asked the refugees whether they really want to settle in Budapest? If I were a refugee it would be the last thing I’d want – regular visits from Jobbik thugs. Japan doesn’t have thuggery but as hospitable as a people as they are unlikely to be able to accommodate refugees with sustainable futures in a country that is deeply protective of its culture, values and sense of respect.

Euro(di)vision contest?

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Does the above surprise you? Europe’s long history almost guarantees it. Don’t get me wrong. I love Europe. Cross a border and the architecture, culture, language and food changes instantaneously. I recall at the time of listing Airbus (EADS) in 1999 and the management wanted to point to their cultural differences by getting three actors to play a German, French and Spaniard with a satirical twist. The German arrived 10 minutes early and was all prepared before the scheduled presentation time of 9am. The French actor rocked up 20 minutes late talking on his mobile phone as he joined the stage to the visible but contained ire of the German actor. 45 minutes later the Spanish actor showed up. The German actor banged the table, stood up and asked him “Where the hell have you been? Didn’t you know the presentation started at 9am?”He replied, “Yes, I know…I just had something better to do!”

However when European member states are told by a bunch of unelected bureaucrats how they must conform against the norms of their individual joie de vivre it can only ever end up as the continent of discontent. I wrote a report on elections 13 months ago pointing to the rapid shift of right-wing parties across Europe (refer to Fig.2 in that report). I’ve since updated the table and it has only gotten more extreme. People are sick and tired of politicians who have lost touch with the average man and woman on the street. Expect Italy’s referendum to be a NO and the right wing FPO’s Norbert Hofer to take the presidency in Austria.

I find Jean-Claude Juncker’s about face perhaps the most telling sign of the EU’s inevitable failure. Pre-Brexit, his aggressive vitriol and arrogance toward member states has slowly dawned on him half a year after the event. He even threw barbs at Farage immediately after his victory speech and told the Brits they’d be punished for their betrayal.

I doubt he had any sleep Saturday night nor Sunday. The Europroject has been a failure. It was always a good theory to unite tribes often at each other’s throats but when a federalist bunch ignored the will of the individuals they sought to rule over then they only have themselves to blame. Such as the plan to fairly distribute refugees among member states. I actually thought the problem was more to do with trying to resettle asylum seekers into countries that didn’t want them. Regardless of the humanitarian angle to helping them, when countries vote 98% to reject them I wouldn’t want to be sent there.

At the end of the day, populism will rule the day in Europe. It has been a long time coming. A Trump win is cited as the reason Europeans are feeling the courage. I doubt it. They’ve been buried under a rock for the last decade as the table above explains clearly.

Would asylum seekers really want to be relocated to Hungary? I would argue not

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It was no surprise to see the Hungarian referendum return 98% “NO” on EU imposed immigration quotas.While accepting c.1,300 asylum seekers on a pure economic cost basis is unlikely to move the needle, one might question asylum seekers willingness to move there in any case.

The above picture shows members of the Hungarian nationalist “Jobbik Party” who look awfully like Ernst Roehm’s SA storm-troopers in 1920s and 1930s Germany. Jobbik garnered over 20% of total votes at the 2014 parliamentary elections, making them the third largest party in the National Assembly. This is up from 2% in 2006.

While the turnout of only 43% did not legally qualify it (requires 50%) as a valid referendum it still showed clearly that Hungarians do not want immigrants decided by the EU. So Hungarian PM Viktor Orban says he will change the constitution to make the decision binding.

This referendum was a double edged sword for Jobbik. On the one hand they want to keep true to their credo, “movement for a better Hungary” but at the same time want to take over from Orban’s Fidesz Party, something they felt more attainable after its first by-election victory in April 2015.

Jobbik has had a pretty fearsome reputation inside Hungary for its tough treatment of Gypsy and Roma minorities because the party claims they rarely contribute to society, sponge off welfare and disproportionately feature in crime statistics. The Jobbik Party’s anti-Roma and anti-Jewish rhetoric and actions have become increasingly virulent in recent years in Hungary, bolstered by organized paramilitary groups, extremist organizations, and private individuals. Several instances of racially motivated crimes and violence by both extremists groups and civilians have been recorded by civil society organizations and the media, including the killing or injuring of Roma victims, the use of firearms, firebombs, grenades, and Molotov cocktails against Roma, and the humiliation of Romani children and adults.

In no way do I suggest Hungarians all share such beliefs but parties like Jobbik have been growing in popularity only highlight the surge in nationalist sentiment.

With that in mind, I very much doubt that legitimate asylum seekers would really wish to be sent to Hungary for resettlement. From being uprooted from their war-torn homeland to potential victimisation in their new home does not exactly sound promising. I haven’t forgotten the pictures of journalists tripping asylum seekers up or ferrying them as fast as possible toward Germany. Then again, if the asylum seekers were asked where they would like to be settled, the EU’s quota allocation sums would be well out of whack.  Therein lies the problem. Enforcing other’s humanitarian beliefs on those that have little or no intention of respecting those aims is hardly a recipe for mutual cooperation.