I was listening to a podcast recently and I heard a statistic cited that floored me. It’s the kind of statistic that you hear and think “well that… that can’t be accurate”, so I went searching to track down the source- and found to my astonishment that it was accurate.
The statistic was that: According to a February 2017 poll, Europeans by a thirty point margin want all further Muslim migration into their country stopped. You read that right, thirty points. The poll was conducted by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and found 55% of Europeans agree with the statement “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped”, 20% disagreed, and 25% were unsure. This, when parsed out by country, equated majorities with 10 to 60 point margins in every European country except Spain and the UK, which has a plurality of 41% and 47% agreeing respectively.
As I continued to dig around polling about European attitudes towards immigrants and minority groups- the poll confirmed what other polling organizations like Pew and Gallup have been finding- Europeans have a strikingly negative view of immigration and Muslims.
These polls struck me, particularly because, I consume a lot of media, foreign media, and alternative media- and I had no idea these views were so prevalent. I knew they existed, but I didn’t now they were approaching majorities. Listening to BBC programming, I never would have guessed that 47% of Brits wanted to halt all Muslim immigration.
What this tells me is that, to use a tired term, the elites in Europe are wholly out of touch with the average people. The politicians I see on the news and reporters I hear on the radio do not represent what the bulk of Europeans seem to believe.
Understanding this begins to explain what is happening in Europe politically. From Brexit to the UK’s wild swinging between left and right in their elections. France electing a man who fancies himself an Emperor and remaking their electoral system with one vote. Advances of Geert Wilders and his party in the Netherlands. The rise of ultra-nationalism in Germany. Resurgent Christian Nationalism in Poland.
The history of European nationalism is a bloody one. As the foundation of the EU seemingly rots beneath it and fresh nationalist and populist movements spring up across the continent, students of history cannot help but watch and wonder what the next half century will hold.