Jobbik

Austria proves again why the EU needs to listen more and talk less

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God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we’d listen more and talk less,’ so the old saying goes This is what the EU gets for trying to bully its member states. It wasn’t long ago that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was telling Austrians that if they democratically elected Norbert Hofer of the right wing FPO then the EU would remove Austria’s voting rights and cut off any transfers. Well the Austrians have voted for a conservative anti-immigrant party (which wants a programme to get immigrants to assimilate with the local culture) with a 31yo leader, Sebastian Kurz. His People’s Party garnered 31.4% (+7%) of the vote with the far-right wing FPO coming in second at 27.4% and incumbent Social Democrat Party coming in third with 26.7%. The Greens will probably not make the cut off of 4% to make a party, So once again the EU has had yet another major repudiation of its totalitarian ideals.

CM has been making the point for ages that forcing one’s beliefs onto others must be done in a way that listens to the other side. Otherwise it delivers results like Trump. It seems the EU hasn’t learned a thing.

So what have we had?

-Le Pen garnered 1/3rd of the French vote (double the best ever achieved by Front National),

-the far right Freedom Party’s (FPO) Norbert Hofer still managed 46% in Austria farcical re-run presidential election),

-Geert Wilders’ 25% increase in seats for the anti-immigrant PVV in The Netherlands,

-the surge in the Sweden Democrats to the top of the recent polls, Elections in 2018.

-Italy’s referendum which turned into a backdoor vote to oust PM Renzi. Elections in 2018 likely.

Brexit (although PM May is handling negotiations in true British efficiency – Fawlty Towers ring a bell?),

the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join the EU,

-the AfD in Germany getting 13% of the vote (Merkel may have won but it was her party’s worse showing in 7 decades)

…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care. It just issues more threats.

While the left openly voices its rage at these ‘right-wing’ parties growing in support, they never bother to seek reasons why. The right are generally just dismissed as racists, bigots or worse.  Major party loyalty has never been worse. The fabric of the loyal party voter base is wearing thinner. Take Australia’s One Nation Party led by Senator Pauline Hanson. The popularity of the mainstream LNP and Labor Parties is at record lows. One Nation is now 10% of the vote from 2% several decades ago. While some parties may claim their loyal base has abandoned them the stronger case to be made is the clear shift of the parties away from their once faithful constituents. Why?

Incumbent governments seem to cower at receiving negative news from the 24-7 polling cycle that is social media. Being careful to avoid inviting attack, they pander to all of the socially acceptable agendas – climate change, gender fluid bathrooms, laws clamping down on free speech, open borders and afffirmative action.

However political correctness is clearly not the answer as these results across Europe and elsewhere show. People are sick of the brow beating by socialist activists. Tired of the constant protests and social justice bleating. The NFL might find that most of its fans are against police brutality but they aren’t wanting a weekly lecture in grievance politics with the price of entry or their cable TV channel. Growing weary of the idea that it is ‘free speech’ and anything against those ideals are deemed ‘hate speech’. It is not to deny some positions are not necessarily palatable but in the marketplace of free speech, ridiculous positions can easily be disproven. Better to give extremist voices a chance to talk and invite public opinion on them at their own peril. Shutting it down forces it underground., making it inherently more dangerous.

Too many mainstream political parties are moving off the policy reserve that defined them so their once loyal followers are actively seek ones that will. While Hanson’s One Nation or Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives may not tick every box to existing LNP voters, they cover enough of the positions that matter to them that they’ll tolerate some of the more out there ideas. It is not uncommon to hear the left complain at One Nation’s is growing popularity at the expense of the Greens but it is a devil of their own making.

So will the EU listen to the Austrian call? Will it pay attention to the Hungarians who voted over 98% against accepting forced migrant quotas? Think through the logic. If you were an asylum seeker, would you think your chances of unincumbered settlement would be best placed where 98.4% of the population doesn’t want you? It is irrelevant whether we think the Hungarians are insensitive brutes not to extend a welcome to those that are legitimately in need. It is their country and their democracy has spoken. If Brussels assumes to dictate to Hungary how it wishes to protect its culture and whatever it holds precious, why shouldn’t the EU have the same rights to enforce income tax, housing benefits and anything else it sees fit? Of course it is a preposterous notion.

It will not be long before the EU will be front and center on Greece. Let us not forget that the EU colluded with Goldman Sachs to ‘fiddle’ the accounts to make Hellas much prettier optically than it was. Was this pig without lipstick it wouldn’t have gained acceptance to the club. So the EU is not in a position to claim innocence over a deliberate ploy to ram-road the Greeks into its federal state yet have no qualms treating it with disdain. Talk about double standards.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks by the EU is despicable beyond words. So for all of the left’s blind love for the EU and its socialist agenda, 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line and 58% of the youth are unemployed. So for all of the EU’s shared sense of purpose and equality, that means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the hospital fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Shortly, the Greeks are coming up for discussion over its debt position and austerity. With just months left before Greece’s latest lifeline expires, officials directly involved in the country’s bailout say they don’t have the stomach for contingent aid program when the current one expires in August 2018. While the EU and Athens are battle worn after 7 years of this knife edge rescue,  Greece will need to show it can go it alone but it’s eurozone creditors will be reluctant without further strings attached.

Here is betting that the EU doesn’t heed the lessons that have been ringing loud and clear for years. Sincerely hoping Greece leaves the EU and lets market forces revive its economy. Better to die on its feet than live on its knees.

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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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.