Monday

26th Sep 2016

Opinion

Mobilise vulnerable communities to vote: anti-racism NGO

  • The EP needs more MEPs who will fight the corner of vulnerable and minority communities (Photo: Austcare - World Humanitarian Aid)

On 25 May EU citizens will go to the polls to elect our European Parliament representatives. Many decisions taken by the EP have a direct impact on our daily lives. However, the biggest challenge is making sure that people understand their voting power to shape this institution and what is at stake.

The political landscape has dramatically shifted to the right in many member states, having a severe and disproportionate impact on the socio-economic reality for ethnic minorities, migrants, women and LGBTQ groups. This has in part been exacerbated by austerity measures and the economic downturn within the EU.

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In Sweden, there has been unprecedented support for an openly racist party, enabling it to enter the national parliament as the country's third biggest party. The Sweden Democrats is a party whose political convictions are entirely against the basic principles of human rights.

Its political discourse blames migrants and other minorities for everything that can possibly go wrong. It is, like other extreme right wing parties, very critical of national immigration policies and it wants a 90 percent decrease in immigration. We have also seen how its members presence in the political establishment has dramatically changed the dynamics of our basic social relations.

It has become more acceptable to be openly racist, in particular against visible minorities such as people of African descent and the Roma. These groups are increasingly victims of violent hate crimes, unequal access to justice and lack of socio-economic opportunities.

This is why it is extremely important to mobilise migrants and vulnerable communities such as the Roma and Black Europeans, in particular, to use their voting powers to influence, shape and change the current political landscape.

Not only are our own living conditions at stake, but those of a new generation too, if we do not use our voting powers to counter the emerging extreme right parties heading for the corridors of power in the European Parliament.

We need to vote for representatives who will fight to maintain basic democratic principles and advocate for the socio-economic inclusion of the most vulnerable.

In the past two decades, over 20,000 people died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to flee war and misery, as a result of EU migration and asylum policies.

We need representatives who will pursue policies that would create legal avenues to seek asylum in the EU and a vision for a humane immigration and asylum policy. Our way of dealing with asylum seekers is an important measure of how we respect basic human rights.

To achieve this goal, it is absolutely essential to mobilise each and every individual who has the legal right to vote, in particular amongst so-called immigrant communities, and to make sure we cast our votes for candidates with whom we share values based on human rights, our vision of social justice and our strong aspiration for better socio-economic conditions for the generations to come.

The writer is Chair of the Pan-African Movement for Justice and Vice-Chair of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)

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