pegidaPoliticians are often accused of being “out of touch” with voters. The political class (or so goes the argument) have no idea what the price of bread is, haven’t got a clue how much a state pension is worth, and live their lives in comfortable bubbles of safety. This applies to a range of issues, but perhaps none are so emotive as the question of immigration and diversity. Across Europe, growing numbers of people are rejecting mainstream political parties and instead turning to populist, anti-immigration movements such as Pegida in Germany.

The charge of being “out of touch” has been made in the past by some of our commenters, including Marcel, who said he was fed up with hearing about the benefits of multiculturalism from wealthy elites:

citizen_icon_180x180We are tired of being preached to by elitists who all live in their rich neighbourhoods where they get none of the problems we do in poorer neighbourhoods where all these immigrants come.

We also had a similar comment sent in by Sunny, arguing that multiculturalism was an elite-led project and contributed to a disconnect between politicians and the public:

citizen_icon_180x180It is easy for politicians and rich to advertise life together with people of different cultures, religions and way of life, while they live in mansions and well protected and secured parts of the urban area. What about rest of us?

We put this comment to Bashy Quraishy, Secretary General of the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion. What would he say to Sunny?

quraishyWell, I personally live and work in an area where a lot of Danish people live alongside ethnic minorities. And, actually, when people live together like that and get to know each other, then there is no friction. It’s only when people don’t know each other that the problems start.

But I am not of the opinion that politicians who live outside these areas don’t know anything about the realities of multiculturalism. And, in fact, some politicians come out with statements that are very discriminatory. So, it doesn’t matter where politicians live, the most important thing is that they are inclusive and protective of everybody.

So, this argument that people have to live among people of different religions and cultures to see how society is changing is not valid. Society is changing, in my opinion, in a better and more inclusive direction. But what is important is contact between people – and not so much between politicians.

We also spoke to Dr Chris Allen, Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham and author of the book Islamophobia. How would he respond?

chris-allenIf you look at some of the issues being raised in Sunny’s question, it’s not necessarily about race, or ethnicity, or culture, or religion, but actually about our social standing. It is – to be an old Marxist – about class. And so those at the bottom of society are suffering the biggest inequalities. And you’ll see that actually there’s white communities, black communities, Asian, Muslim, Christian – there’s lots of different communities which are in that lower end of society.

It’s very easy to blame multiculturalism as the cause of that, but if you look in those kind of low level spaces where people are suffering in poverty, actually you will find it’s different cultural groups that are disproportionately represented there.

Are politicians “out of touch” with the realities of multiculturalism? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Strassenstriche

54 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Lukas Mukhtar Yassin

    Pagida is a movement based upon hating Muslims.
    People who are unsatisfied with politicians do not join such destructive forces.

    We need to stop finding excuses for this kind of hate. Let’s call it for what it is!

  2. avatar
    Oliver Hauss

    Huh? Pegida isn’t growing anymore. Quite the contrary. The “original” Pegida split and the two parts only recruit a few hundred people by now.

  3. avatar
    catherine benning

    It is not that politicians are out of touch, as the truth is, they are very in touch. It is the fact that they are afraid to speak about what they know the public want in the majority. They fear the dangerous groups who threaten their families and their lives should they dare to speak what they know.

    And more than that, if they are in a party that demands they tow the line, whatever that line may be, and if they don’t, they will be out on their ear, then to keep their monthly salary they must obey their masters. And their masters, who are afraid of what they have created in their states, fear the public backlash, so they cannot allow their men/women to tell the truth about what is really going on. For this means they will have to fear for their lives once again. Our tolerant society is not as it once was.

    Politicians are cowards these days. They are not in the business to advance the lives of their constituents, they are not people with a vocation or a mission. They are in it to line their pockets, which always lead to a corrupt head of the people. Unless they are part of the faction that wants to impose on the people a lifestyle they don’t want to either accept of be part of, how will they get to the top?

    This is why, if any government wants to truly adhere to democracy they must accept Direct Democracy. Which means, asking the electorate for their ‘permission’ to ‘change’ their society. If we had that right across Europe, then those who do not have the Europeans best interests at heart, would be thwarted immediately.

    Of course, this is the reason governments and those elite who want to impose on the people opinions and attitudes that are against their natural sense of what is good for them, don’t ever want to consider the people should have the right to choose for themselves. It would mean they gave the ‘power to the people’ and that all the politically correct individuals, who live on the tax payer funds, would be out of a job and on a line with those begging for zero hour contracts.

    I mean, what would ‘Stonewall’ or the ‘Diversity Group’ do without a means to pressure the voters through the imposition of their desires on a public who had the right to vote for or against an agenda? Where would they raise the funds to appeal or convince those who tick the boxes for or against their ideas. In other words, it would mean lobbyists would have to fight for the votes of the people and they don’t want that. As then the reality of what they are pushing us to accept would be likely to be out in the open, rather than hidden from view as it is now.

    Who pushed for multiculturalism? Does anyone know? How was it taken up by our political elite without a word being spoken to the public of what they were doing or had planned? How was the word ‘racist’ put in to the public domain in order to silence dissent and create a criminal offence from speaking out against such an issue?

    And last, how many of you are afraid to speak your mind today on so many issues that, had you been asked via a secret vote, you would not have supported?

    However, today you must also consider this, a referendum on any issue would mean policing the voting stations with people who were determined to see the honest word of the people spoken. As, rigging has become commonplace in many European States, as we follow the lines of those we once ridiculed in countries that pretend numbers on the count.

    I have a very strong feeling this is what happened in Scotland. Hence the massive change to the SNP party, who are for Independence, since that vote to be either free of Westminster or ruled by it was taken. In other words, politicians cheat…… What a surprise.

  4. avatar
    Rui Manuel Simões Oliveira

    Movements like Pegida exists due to a incapacity of politicians to make the real difference in people’s life. An honest and intelligent politician work for his nation, contributing to raise the national pride. This populists movements, only shows that tradicional parties, couldn’t make any kind of change in order to put a stop in this austerity that asfixiates some countries in Europe. The tradicional parties has a huge responsability to make things different but they have to start right now or else we’re gonna fall down in non exit alley.

    • avatar

      And THAT can lead to loss of freedom. So your ‘opinion’ is garbage.

  5. avatar
    Ferenc Lázár

    Multicultural society is a bit like anarchy..than the elite rich people can build up their perfect “democracy” which they are always behind all political powers..

  6. avatar
    British Patriot ;)

    Movements like Pegida exist because many Europeans have a genuine concern over immigration control and protecting national heritage/culture but politicians response to them is “you’re all racist”. That leaves people with little choice other than to take to the streets

  7. avatar
    Jorge Lux

    I agree. The elite is totally disconnected from the reality. They live in gold towers far away from the multicultural society they’ve created.

  8. avatar

    which is the question? Politicians are in touch with citizens’ views because that’s how they earn their money. And national politicians promote Nationalism because it gives them a job. Multiculturalism is a way to fight against syncretism, Union, that is what all the elites fear (except the one in Brussels, obviously). But, don’t worry. It’s like the end of the European Middle Age.All the proud cities and kingdoms pretending to last forever, unchanged. With it’s tall walls, knights, taxes and guilds. Who now lives to remember even their names? In one hundred years we will not be Spanish, British, or French. We will be European… or Russian, or Chinese.

  9. avatar
    Carles Manrique Pérez

    Multiculturalism usually comes as an automatical thing and forcing it has disastrous consequences. And again, immigration is NOT a problem but massive immigration is. Also there is a big problem of the INTEGRATION with muslims in general and in Catalonia/Spain with South Americans. Race is not a problem, but another of the disastrous effects of multikulti is the fact that if a black dude starts crying black power ooooh its fine and multicultural but if a white says white pride or like that it is automatically a racist?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Carles Manrique Pérez
      You seem a tad misinformed old bean, FTR:

      The slogan’black power’ is a pro-black civil rights based phrase – it is NOT a racist expression.

      The slogan ‘white pride’ is a racist phrase employed by neo-Nazis – it IS a racist expression.

  10. avatar
    Jaume Roqueta

    many followers afrim all this crisis is an elite-led project but you dont say this… allways promoting debate about inmigrants and cultures… and NO… the politicians disconected from the people because they went somewhere else.. is nothing to do with this stupidity of multiculturalsim… maybe something related with the financial crisis of 2008… 

  11. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    What Multiculturalism ? I could understand that majority of young people in EU are atheists and don’t like village folklore . So today’s culture is facebook and English music .

  12. avatar
    Ingo Vonsundahl

    Oh. So now multiculturism is to blame when it comes to EU politicians having lost contact to the people while flying all over Europe, taking taxis to and fro the airport and their palaces of parliamentary sittings in Strassbourg or Brussels. They might as well be travelling in outer space. But wait they are being paid heavenly wages already.

  13. avatar
    Nina Nikoletou

    The disconnection between politicians and the public, has historically been proved as a result of “political lie and corruption”. Multiculturalism is the result of globalization and evolution. The earth is not flat anymore.

  14. avatar
    Ivan Vikalo

    No true.. it is the voters that have gotten too comfortable….. you can easily engage yourself politically if you want… and there are tons of info out there.. the better question to ask is what have ordinary people done to orient themselves on eu affairs etc?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Ivan Vikalo
      You sound like a weasel-like politician!

  15. avatar
    Toni Muñiz

    It is true. Multiculturalism is elite led. Kalergi plan. And politicians are out of touch with the reality that multiculturalism brings. And instead of finding a solution to the problems that are forced upon us, what politicians do is look for ways to silence criticism of multiculturalism by way of laws disguised as anti discrimination laws, or directly calling out people as racists or nazis as Merkel and Cameron and some other have done.

  16. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    Multiculturalism is fine as long as there is integration. I don’t believe that europeans owe anything to anyone so that our interests and rights to be violated by non- integrated minorities. It’s funny that immigrants come and say that everything our ancestors stood for should be changed(and the minorities thermselves sholudn’t change cause that’s their right). If there are politicians that have a heart for their problems then these politicians should quit the european state parliaments go and enter the parliaments in Africa and Asia!

  17. avatar
    Vincent Kleijn

    absolutely NOT!!! Even funnier. Multiculturalism (both from European as other migrants) is a direct result of companies who wanted to attract employees who wanted to do their dirty jobs (see the mines of Belgium, Germany, Holland, agriculture in several countries etc) and because their own citizens didn’t want to do those jobs. So politicians and certainly elite…. have nothing to do with this!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Vincent Kleijn
      Politicians and the elite KNEW that wages would be pushed down due to immigration. It was “heads” they win, “tails” they don’t lose.

  18. avatar
    Padelis Dellis

    Of it was up to the people of each nation and not the politicians there would be less wars
    in the planet.people of different places they always find a common point. When politicians get involved every thing gets fucked up

    • avatar

      Before there were politicians and organised states, people were tribal and killing each other over who gets the best piece of land to settle…

  19. avatar
    J P Schoffer Petricek

    an open society means automatically also a multitude of cultures, abbreviated: multiculturalism. The contrary of this is a “Blut-und-Boden”-approach demanded by fanatics like Le Pen, the golden Dawn and other fascists. That ended with concentration camps and failed in 1945. Rightly so.

  20. avatar
    iron worker

    Do movements like Pegida exist because politicians are “out of touch”?

    I don’t understand what politicians have to do with a rational social reaction to radical Islam. Of course they might want to hijack any social movement and control it, but lately they become quite autistic. They failed in almost everything, and their reason to be is become quite questionable. Maybe it’s time for a deep structural change, who knows ?

  21. avatar
    Stefania Portici

    multiculturalism is an enrichment but lacks respect. We feel strangers in our house, we feel invaded by the enemy that is not the poor wretch from another culture but the elite of international finance thief of our lives

  22. avatar

    The real problem is not multiculturalism. The problem is”criminals”. Better, the problem is poverty. There three kinds of iimmigrants coming in Europe. The simple people who’ve want a better life like all Europeans; The ones who have in mind stealing and killing due to poverty (which implies also in Europeans because we alto have our criminals so we are the same, and the ones that will kill no matter what just because they disagree or because in their country they have not learned the value of human life. If politicians make plans to for the better protection of the European!!!! borders and educate the immigrants entering about the value of human life, freedom on beliefs an property (something that I dear to say some or us needed too) then all of us complaining now about our Muslim neighbours will notice have an problem and more. For a politician to do that he doesn’t need today’s know how much the break costs. He just needs to be a person that really cares about society and wants to do for society.

  23. avatar
    João Antunes

    No, I do not agree.
    Things are more complex than that.
    I think people are being distracted from the important subjects.
    The media are playing an important and responsible role here by showing us garbage or omitting crucial information and you may ask yourself why is this happening?
    Because media belong to powerful and influent lobbists, most of them are also inside the politics.
    That prevents people to gather information of quality and thus having a pondered and wise opinion.

  24. avatar
    João Antunes

    Multiculturalism is not an issue here…there you are making moronic questions and distracting us again. :-p

  25. avatar
    Nuno Ramos

    Multiculturalism is a North American ideal, and Europeans are as always to cynical to have any ideals

  26. avatar
    Nazim Hatipoglu

    PEGIDA is not a multiculturalism enemy. It is solely based upon Islamophobia. To call this a european phenomena would be wrong. Let me give you an example.
    I am from Turkey. You all got the news during the Taksim protests and resulting regression from the Erdogan Government. Now I tell you with full confidence, the protests resulted from the same islamophobia, which many european countries suffer today. Being well educated and modern brings a certain level of Agnosticism with it. And this same percentage of the population in Turkey feared the return of opressing Islam to their 80 years of Secular country.

    The Arabic “spring” is a result of Islamophobia developed in the educated percentage of citizens, who had enough from the opression under religious rule.

    PEGIDA is Islamophobia, and Islamophobia is not only in Europe but in the whole world.

    One factor which contribute to this kind of behaviour is the fact that Islam never had its Dark Age and following Renaissance, thus being a under-developed religion which promotes spiritual over material world, thus resulting in direct indifference in science and modern development in the population under its influence. Simply said.

    • avatar

      A few good points. However, don’t you think that the terrorist attacks committed and planned by Muslims against Europeans in the name of Islam contribute to Islamophobia the most? A word which literally means fear of Islam.

  27. avatar
    Nazim Hatipoglu

    Now to the Nationalism part of the Problem;
    We all are well aware that Nationalism is not only a Problem in Germany but in all Countries in Europe. After the End of WW2 and utter failure of nationalism, say not only in Germany, but also in Italy for an example. ( Spain failed to withstand Franco and lived under his Rule till his death )

    After this Failure, and the succesion of EU, It is easier to gain ground as a European Nationalism Movement by picking an enemy “out of Europe”, say Islam. Big part of the Immigration to Europe comes from Islamic countries, thus making it easy for radical nationalists to choose them as target and “troublemaker”.

    Movements like PEGIDA or LEGIDA are nothing more than an attempt, to use the world-wide Islamaphobia to gain political ground, which probably has finacial and personal gains in it roots. It will not solve problems, because like all of similiar organisations, If there would be no “problems”, there would be need for “new and brave” politicians.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Nazim Hatipoglu
      Can one fear Islam and at the same time NOT resort to violence or abuse to adherents of Islam?

  28. avatar
    Chalks Corriette

    Politicians are never in touch with what is happening today, never mind what is going to happen next month. The system is far too clow moving and the political elite spends much quality time in protectig thier own stuff. The only way to be one united Europe is to ensure that equality of participation and life chances is just that; equal. Yes, there may be some complexity in the transition, and many people would stay in thier home countries if there were better life chances for work, education and being social.

  29. avatar

    We are being asked to comment on Pegida without being told exactly what Pegida is. We are being told it is an Islamophobic and anti-immigration movement but having looked at their manifesto that is not what it says…An interesting situation.

  30. avatar
    Leo Vlaming

    The term “multiculturalism” means different things to different people and is pretty worthless. The main point is that any society needs a common core of essential beliefs, norms and values and these are usually culturally, historically and religiously determined.

  31. avatar

    I agree with the sentiment that politicians, certainly to some extent, are out of touch with their people, their needs, their fears, but with respect to Pegida, from all I can take from the news, their members on a large scale seem to be unwilling to make clear what they stand for. It is therefore difficult, if not impossible, to enter into a discussion with them and to address the concerns of the people who are marching with Pegida. I also believe, that countries such as Germany have much larger issues to handle than the concerns of unhappy individuals. According to the latest integration status report released in Germany in 2014, 15.3 million Muslims live in Germany, a fraction of Germany’s overall population. Yet, on the road to integration into Germany’s society a lot still needs to be done. I believe that in a time of rising global economic uncertainty, or even instability, we see tension rising everywhere, which unfortunately also expresses itself in rising Islamophobia, or, in Germany to perceived threat of an Islamization of Germany. I believe there is no one-size-fits-all answer how to address these problems.

  32. avatar

    Here in the U.S. the so-called “upper Classes” like the Bushes hobnob with the Saudi royal family and so think all things Muslim are hunky-dory.The fact is the Saudis are the biggest conductors of terrorism in the world and yet you’ll hear idiots like George W. Bush open his donkey mouth and bray in praise of them.And now, the MOST dangerous development of all-Pakistan is said to become the world’s third most nuclear-armed country in the world very shortly. Forget Iran, you idiot politicians! This is many times worse. Pakistan never should have been created. There is still time to un-create it. Otherwise, there will assuredly be Nuclear Fireworks in your future with YOU as the target.
    Europe should expel all Muslims. They are only biding their time to take over. Don’t allow it.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.