Political Extremists Turn to Coded Language to Win Elections in Europe

Svenja O'Donnell and Mehul Srivastava, Bloomberg, March 16, 2015

Not so long ago, the U.K. Independence Party was dismissed by a future prime minister as a bunch of “closet racists,” Danes were embarrassed to admit that they voted for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party and France’s National Front finished third in 2011 local elections.

How quickly the tide rises.

This year, UKIP could win about 15 percent of the vote in the U.K.’s May polls, while forcing a national reckoning on immigration. The Danish People’s Party will probably be the largest political party in soon-to-be-announced elections. And polls show the National Front running neck-and-neck for first in the popular vote in local elections that begin March 22.

How in Europe, a bastion of western liberalism, have a handful of stridently anti-immigration and anti-European Union leaders managed to burst from the margins of civil discourse to the gates of political power?

The common threads are a sense of voter insecurity in the aftermath of the European debt crisis, the failure of established leaders to create an alternative vision and, most important, the decision by the extremist parties to begin speaking in more muted language. They rely on code words to evoke surrogate issues such as welfare or national identity.

They criticize immigration, not immigrants. They speak of national values, not of religion. In Denmark, the People’s Party used halal food to raise questions about Danish values. In the U.K., stopping immigrants from perceived abuse of the National Health Service has become an electoral linchpin.

{snip}

For Catherine Bernard, a 43-year-old housewife who said she may vote for the National Front in elections for assemblies of 97 of France’s 101 departments, immigration is a winning issue.

“There are too many foreigners in France,” said Bernard as she headed to the bakery, adding that she likes Le Pen because she is a female candidate. “Someone has to say it, and no else has the guts to.”

{snip}

An hour away from Copenhagen, at the end of a dirt road, Soren Espersen, the deputy chairman of the Danish People’s Party, pours coffee and offers a sliced donut in the kitchen of his six-bedroom, 237-year-old home. His first pangs of unease at the idea of large Muslim communities within Europe came in the late 1980s, he said, when, as a freelance journalist, he watched Muslim groups in London protest Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, “The Satanic Verses.”

After he returned home, he joined the newly formed party in 1995. It had begun as an anti-tax movement and evolved into opposing unchecked immigration by the late 1990s. In the 2001 elections, when Espersen was in charge of the party’s media department, it came in third and helped prop up a minority government.

Exit polls under-represented the party’s support vote by as much as five percentage points. That’s because people were convinced by the party’s message but embarrassed to admit to voting for it, according to Espersen.

Muddy Message

That’s when he realized that the party’s message could easily be muddied, and thus disregarded, if leaders weren’t careful to avoid opportunities to be dismissed as racist.

“The opinions we have on limiting immigration can very easily appeal to total extremists–where else would they go? Who else would they support?” he said. “With immigration, it’s such a sensitive area to be in that you have to weigh every word you say on a golden scale, and it’s difficult for some people to understand that.”

The party started expelling the most extreme and indelicate of its members. Leaders reshaped their argument around whether Denmark can remain Danish if it keeps letting in immigrants who share completely different ideologies than native Danes.

In local elections in 2013, the party seized upon a very visceral image: halal meals were being served in a few nurseries around the country to accommodate the religious needs of Muslim toddlers. For meat to be halal, the animal has to be culled while conscious, and the process has to be approved by an imam.

Halal Ban

The party won 10 percent of the overall vote, and several mayoral races, including Copenhagen. In national elections planned for later this year, the party is currently polling at 20 percent of the national vote, ahead of its opponents.

In 2014, Denmark’s parliament banned both kosher and halal meat production.

“People haven’t branded us racist, the elite have,” Espersen said. “I never hear that when I am out, but I certainly read that in the newspaper. It’s a brand mark you put on people in order to silence them.”

{snip}

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  • TruthBeTold

    They rely on code words to evoke surrogate issues such as welfare or national identity.
    They criticize immigration, not immigrants. They speak of national values, not of religion. In Denmark, the People’s Party used halal food to raise questions about Danish values.

    Good heavens. We’re not allowed to speak directly about issues so we talk indirectly about issues.

    Will indirect reference now be classified as ‘indirect hate speech’?

    • Michael Whalen

      It will be a micro-aggression

    • Robert Smith

      They are markers evidencing thought crime.

    • guest

      Limiting the direct use of overt expression only increases the potential for covert jokes and humor, and artful visual propagation of awareness (cartoons, graffiti, etc.). This current state of affairs can be played to great ultimate advantage.

  • LHathaway

    “People haven’t branded us racist, the elite have”, “It’s a brand mark you put on people in order to silence them.”

    It’s a brand, or an advertisement. One identifying those willing to end non-white immigration. How long will it be before Whites start running to the ‘racist party’? After all, “Someone has to (oppose immigration) and no else has the guts to.” How long till Whites in the US vote for total racial separation? Segregation, Apartheid, and finally, racial separation: You can’t get any more racist than that. That’s as racist as you can possibly become. How soon till Whites in the USA vote for racial separation?

    “polls show the National Front running neck-and-neck for first in the popular vote in local elections that begin March 22”.

    Thank God. I know you thought he was dead.

  • james AZ

    WHERE are you ……. Fight off third world immigration. Black , Hispanic, Muslims and other south Asians off the america…..

  • Weisheit77

    So apparently wanting anymore “change” than the actual word being printed on a placard for a political rally makes one an extremist.

    (I’m aware this is Europe and I made a jab at Obama, but it’s the same spirit that motivates the western European countries and EU that motivates Obama.)

  • LackawannaErie

    “How in Europe, a bastion of western liberalism, have a handful of stridently anti-immigration and anti-European Union leaders managed to burst from the margins of civil discourse to the gates of political power?”

    They are succeeding because they don’t follow the same script as conservatives in America. Firstly, they formed their own parties that they have full control over, rather trying to work inside of the center-right party, like conservatives in America have.

    They have kept the focus on immigration and demographic and cultural issues rather than getting lost in extreme, 18th Century British liberal economic theories that alienate the working and middle class like conservatives in America do.

    They have moderated their language, but not embraced the other side’s values, like conservatives in America have with odes to MLK and claims that America is a “proposition nation” with no identity.

    They reserve their loyalty for their own nation, unlike American conservatives who have made a false idol out of Israel as they allow America to be colonized by the third world.

    Are Americans who care about preserving our civilization going to learn lesson from European nationalists or are they going to keep doing the same things that failed in the 1980’s, 90’s and 2000’s?

    • Spikeygrrl

      “…extreme, 18th Century British liberal economic theories…”

      And those would be…?

      • LackawannaErie

        Laissez-faire economics.

        • Spikeygrrl

          There is NOTHING either extreme or outmoded about that! It’s ONLY the best economic system Mankind has ever devised…

          The OP needs to crawl back under his rock — or back to HuffPo — and stay there.

  • FozzieT

    “How in Europe, a bastion of western liberalism, have a handful of stridently anti-immigration and anti-European Union leaders managed to burst from the margins of civil discourse to the gates of political power?”

    Ummmm… maybe because the regular citizens of these countries have had to endure the endless multicultural “blessings” of the vibrant immigrants? Things like child rape, Sharia rule, “no-go” zones, beheadings…all supported by the native citizens’ taxes….all while being reminded that they are horrible racists if they don’t support the wonderful diversity imposed by their leaders.

    • LackawannaErie

      We have been enduring a much worse racial situation since the 1960’s here in the USA. White families were ethnically cleansed from most major cities two generations ago. Why no organized nationalist opposition here?

  • John Smith

    “How in Europe, a bastion of western liberalism, have a handful of
    stridently anti-immigration and anti-European Union leaders managed to
    burst from the margins of civil discourse to the gates of political
    power?”

    Because the people there can see what’s going on, as much as their “liberal” media and governments try to hide it, and know Western Liberalism has given away the store to a bunch of dangerous parasites who contribute little of value? Liberal values aren’t absolute and sharing their protections with those who either don’t appreciate them or openly revile them is a dangerous exploit.

    • LackawannaErie

      The media in Europe is generally much more honest about race and immigration that the media in America. Extensive coverage in mainstream newspapers goes to things like the high welfare usage by immigrants and high non-white crime rates. Things that American newspapers don’t touch.

  • Anders Hass

    LIberal Alliance wants an immigration policy that says you need to be able to pay for you own healthcare for first 10 years in order to get an citizenship but the healthcare would be paid for if they work and pay taxes. Where The Danish People’s party is just stricter on Muslim and East Europeans. Neither really want to leave EU

  • JohnEngelman

    Immigration to European countries has had negative consequences that are increasingly obvious. It should come as a surprise to no one that a backlash is growing.

    • silviosilver

      Immigration to the USA has had even more negative consequences, by virtue of numbers alone if nothing else. Yet you want it to continue indefinitely, which is a clear demonstration of your anti-white values in my book.

      • JohnEngelman

        An influx of blond haired, blue eyed immigrants from South Africa would have a depressing effect on wages for American citizens.

  • evilsandmich

    “Political Extremists”

    If someone is pulling down enough votes to take a big block of the parliament, one was to question exactly whose views are “extreme”.

  • Earl Turner

    Meanwhile in Amurrica, so-called “conservatives” are bending over backwards to reach out to minorities and fighting in Congress to increase non-white immigration. All this while supporting a country (you know the one, we can’t criticize this particular ethno-state) that practices apartheid and has no problem ejecting anyone who isn’t like them.

    What hypocrisy!

    I hope that one day the revitalized nationalist Europe will take in us white Americans as refugees from the multicultural hell Amurrica is becoming.

  • WR_the_realist

    Anything that frightens Bloomberg’s editorial staff can only be good. They’re leading advocates of illegal immigration, the European Union, our two party duopoly, and getting America into that war in Ukraine.

  • WR_the_realist

    A party isn’t worth voting for if the mainstream media hasn’t branded it “racist” and “extreme”.