The important thing to note about the pronouncements quoted below is that — from the point of view of the Belgian Left — immigrants have “saved democracy”:
Immigration as a political weapon
Over the past two decades immigration has increased without precedent, and during that time it even reached a historical peak. A dramatic evolution, although not everyone sees it that way. The sociologist Jan Hertogen, for example, believes that the mass immigration has put Belgium in an excellent position to address the current and future financial and economic crises. He doesn’t explain, however — unfortunately but understandably — what the grounds of his assumptions are. We have previously criticized the widely-trumpeted economic benefits that immigration is supposed to bring, and pointed out that this myth is already debunked by foreign studies.
But there is more. Hertogen also notes that what he (rightly) calls the “factual demographic renewal of society” is an electoral weapon in the fight against “extreme right,” by which he “obviously” means the Vlaams Belang.
In any case, Hertogen knows what he’s talking about. When, after the municipal elections of 2006, the political impact of the Snel-Belgwet [“Quick Belgian Act”, see previous post ] and (to a lesser extent) the immigration vote became known, the left-wing sociologist was first in line to Proclaim loudly that immigrants “had saved democracy”. Based on the figures, he demonstrated that the Vlaams Belang was slowed down only in municipalities with many “New Belgians” of non-European origin. He calculated what the outcome would have been, for example, in cities like Ghent, Antwerp and Mechelen if the “New Belgians” [those who became Belgian with the “Quick Belgian Act”] had not voted: “It shows that the impact of the Vlaams Belang with the native Flemish citizens is not (yet) reversed. In Ghent there is an actual increase of 0.4% in due to the native Flemish population, in Antwerp + 3.2%, and + 2.7% in Mechelen.”
“Luckily there are immigrants who can vote,” he added, obviously relieved.
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It is not a bad thing when someone like Hertogen these days points at the growing importance of the electoral weight of the immigrant vote as an electoral weapon against the Vlaams Belang. In the past we repeatedly stressed that lax immigration policy was a means for the Belgian establishment to slow down the electoral rise of the Flemish national party.. (And for the Left the only way to compensate for their ever smaller base of support…)
The attempts by the regime to cripple the will of the Flemish electorate are seemingly not limited to the installing of a “cordon sanitaire” [isolating Vlaams Belang from joining coalitions and so on], the use of political procedures, and the introduction of tailor-made changes to the electoral system. Ultimately the rulers will also replace the electorate.
Inadvertently this makes one think of the words that Bertold Brecht wrote in response to the revolt against Socialist DDR dictatorship: “When the people don’t like those in power, those in power should choose another people.”
The Brecht poem referenced above:
By Bertolt Brecht
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writer’s Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
And in the original German:
Nach dem Aufstand des 17. Juni
Ließ der Sekretär des Schriftstellerverbands
In der Stalinallee Flugblätter verteilen
Auf denen zu lesen war, daß das Volk
Das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt habe
Und es nur durch verdoppelte Arbeit
Wäre es da
Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
Löste das Volk auf und
Wählte ein anderes?