Migration, politics and popular opinion
Sir, – In his opinion column of December 6th, “Doing the right thing on climate change turns into political disaster for Macron”, Stephen Collins conflated two issues which show that he does not fully understand what a democratic society is. He tells us: “The setback suffered by Macron is a salutary lesson for political leaders around Europe as they try and devise the best policies to deal with climate change and other major challenges like immigration, where the public may not be in tune with what needs to be done.”
In a democracy politicians are elected to work towards the medium-term or long-term goals of the citizens. Political leaders may, indeed, have a difficult task in persuading citizens to take the sometimes difficult steps to attain their goal. But the first fundamental is that citizens and political leaders share the same goal. We can assume that citizens want a planet on which their children and grandchildren can live.
In the case of immigration, however, (and he obviously means large-scale immigration), it should be very obvious that this is not a goal of European citizens. Who could deny that if migratory pressures suddenly ceased, both citizens and political leaders in Europe would heave a massive sigh of relief? In the case of a former political editor of your paper, it is safe to assume that bringing citizens “in tune with what needs to be done” means persuading them to accept large-scale immigration, quotas, burden-sharing, etc. But in a democracy what needs to be done is to bring the opinion columnists of this world “into tune” by acknowledging the wishes of citizens and for political leaders to firmly resist that migratory pressure. – Yours, etc,
ÁINE NÍ CHONAILL,
Platform, Dublin 2.