Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Democratic Europe and immigrants

Democratic Europe and immigrants

J. Lidak

ARS – Academy of political and social sciences,

Kolin, Czech Republic


None of today’s world’s political ideals enjoys such widespread consent, even respect, as democracy. Be it liberals, conservatives, socialists, communists, even radicals, all politicians enthusiastically claim allegiance to democracy and voice their respect and loyalty to its principles. Modern understanding of democracy is dominated by the form of electoral democracy that is known as liberal democracy. We can meet it in almost all developed capitalist societies, in some forms it has spread into the former socialist and developing worlds. At the beginning of the 1990s, Francis Fukuyama declared the worldwide triumph of liberal democracy which he described as the end of history, i.e. the end of political ideas struggle. Despite its undisputed success, liberal democracy is still only one of possible democratic models, the democratic qualities of which are nonetheless sometimes disputed. Within the almost general agreement on the acceptation of democracy, one should not forget that the positives of democracy have been the matter of heated discussion for tens of years and since the beginning of the 21st century, in connection with the political life in the European Union as well as in the whole world, this discussion has intensified in many ways. The advantages and positives of democracy are being discussed, but also the disadvantages and negatives. The weakening citizen participation and decreasing electoral turnout in many countries of developed Europe as well as elsewhere are often seen as the symptom of an unfavourable and problematic state of representative democracy. General public in some of developed countries and especially in the post-communist world feels disgusted about democratic politics and the home variety of capitalism. Moreover, in the countries of the European Union, at the beginning of the 21st century, we can see the growing influence of immigration as the phenomenon of problems and within the democratic Europe also politically profitable.

Here we must point out that the idea of dynamically changing multicultural society, mixing of cultures and the related issues of identity have become an inseparable part of contemporary European life.  This phenomenon is becoming the most discussed question in today’s democratic conditions of life in Europe because of the deepening divide between the home – autochthonous – population of individual countries on one side and immigrants on the other one. Western European States are getting back to their traditional, but by the general public negatively seen, multi-ethnicity. Demographic change, as S. Castles put it, does not correlate with existing political and social institutions of modern national liberal state; such institutions that developed in the context of ethnic population explosion and massive emigration.[1]  All contemporary Western European countries have been looking in their integration policies for the balance between the imperative of assimilation of immigrants into their political nation and recognition of their liberty to keep and cultivate their special bonds inherited in their home countries. The problems caused by immigrants in democratic societies vary from social discrimination to political violence. The question of identities and the phenomenon of immigration are currently becoming one of the most sensitive topics that has moreover become under the influence of the security and national interest protection debates, from real as well as symbolic reasons, substantially politicized. As we can see, there is no easy solution to this problem. Its future development is open and it is possible that it will become extremely complicated and it will affect political development in all European countries.

This can be proved by the increasing numbers of immigrants and foreign-born in the “old” 15 EU member states, that grew four times between the years 1950-2000. In the first decade of the 21st century the highest numbers were seen in Germany – 8.8 %, United Kingdom – 6.6 %, France – 5.8 %. The highest number of immigrants as the percentage of the total population was in Liechtenstein – 38.1 %, Luxemburg – 42.6 % and Switzerland – 21.1 %. Other European countries with high population of foreigners were Belgium – 9.1 %, Sweden – 5.7 % and Netherlands – 5.2 %.[2]

The result of immigration in domestic policy is the percentage of growth of electoral preference of extreme right political parties that base their programmes and manifestos on verbal attacks against immigrants as well as on defending national identities, which shows that parts of the original population is not ready for conflict-free cohabitation with other countries’ nationals, with members of other cultures or civilisations. There is also the growing support of large parties that take the negative stance to immigration maybe even as a result of their fear of losing their electoral support. The right wing political party formations can subsequently use the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants to mobilize their electorate. The topic of identity and mutual understanding has become an important theme of electoral campaigns in Western Europe and since the 1990s also in some of the countries of the former communist bloc. The attitude to immigrants has become a basal part of government programmes of action in Europe.[3] European political elites have followed the requests of their electorates and voice clearly and loudly that the capacity of Europe, with the exception of highly qualified labour force, as concerning immigration, i.e. migration, has been filled. K. Bade notes that inside the masses, the fear of aliens grows and at the “top level”, the fear of own citizens as voters grows as well.[4]

From the point of view of conceptualizing the topic and from the perspectives of causality and conditions as well as enormous complexity of the problems of immigration, it is necessary to point out that at the turn of the century there has been a plethora of significant changes in the area of international migration flows in the enlarging Europe. New patterns of international migration include changes in the countries of origin as well as of destination. The existing pressure of immigrants from the poor countries of the so called Third world, i.e. the direction south – north and the intercontinental migration connected with geographical distance and historical connections, mostly colonial, have been complemented by other inter-European migration flows, above all migration from the east and central Europe to the west. In the 1990s, international migrants started to establish themselves even in such countries that had been sources of large emigration flow – in Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland and later even in the countries of the V4, especially in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. New patterns include also changed profiles and strategies of migrants. There has been an increase of illegal migration; migration has become feminized; the number of refugees has grown; there has been an increase in temporary migration, student migration (mobility) and the migration of highly qualified non-manual workforce.

For Europe today, the biggest nightmare is the intercontinental migration, especially from the Third world, despite the fact that two thirds of migrants in Western Europe come from the East and only one third from the South. In the terms of our subject, however, they are considered by the Western European public as much more acceptable as they come from the same civilization spheres and do not pose a threat to the democratic system of European countries. In the 1990s the intercontinental migration to Europe from the south grew up by only 1 to 2 per cent while the migration from the east grew by 21 per cent. In spite of that, especially in connection with the political development in the countries of Northern Africa,   the anxiety of the “march” to Europe persists.[5] Such nightmare materializes above all   with the idea of illegal immigrants coming from Africa in boats and ships, especially in Italy and Spain. In the summer of 2006, twenty-five thousand immigrants from Morocco and Sub-Saharan Africa came to Spain. Spain reacted with externalizing the problem and with intensive cooperation with African countries, especially with Morocco, where most of the ships were coming from. It has signed re-admission treaties with Mauretania, Mali, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and other countries of the region. There have been efforts to build retaining expatriate camps on the African coasts and thus prevent the refugees from getting to the territory of Spain, which has helped to limit African immigration to Spain, specifically for 25 per cent in 2008.  

Similar situation has been recently in the political development in Italy, where illegal immigration is considered a crime. Despite that, most immigrants come from Africa, specifically from Libya, where such type of migration grew up by 75 per cent in 2008.[6] Today’s situation is alarming. According to the Italian Ministry of Interior, there were 178 ships carrying 10414 people onboard only in the first half of 2006, that landed at the Lampedusa island,[7] while currently after the fall of the regimes in Tunisia and Libya, there were six thousand people who arrived to the island in one week, which is more the total population of the island in the Mediterranean Sea. The information about the life conditions in the refugee camps in Libya, Mauretania or Morocco are alarming and the losses of human lives bear no defence. Italy has sent boats with refugees back to the dictatorship in Libya[8], the EU has been financing construction of retaining capacities in Mauretania, and the Spanish border guard have operated on the territory of Mauretania itself. In May 2010, from the initiative of Italy, a discussion of ministers of interior of Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain and Poland, so called Group of Six – G6 took place, on the topic of limiting the migration from sea; the discussed question included especially how to suppress the flow of African refugees, the topics of border protection and repatriation of irregular or illegal migrants. It was especially Italy that displayed that the Mediterranean states cannot bear the burden of “boat people” alone and that the responsibility needs to be distributed and Europe needs to participate as a whole. However, the results of negotiations have no real impact, which is shown for example by the state of mutual negotiations between Italy and France concerning the Libyan refugees. According to the statistics, more the 600 refugees have drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea on their way to safety and better future prospects since 2011.[9] In spite of that, some political elites have been trying to fight this nightmare using very radical means, as could have been seen in several declarations of European politicians, e. g. the British National Party MEP Nick Griffin’s declaration that boats with African immigrants trying to get to Europe should be sunk.[10] We can say here that the common EU concept of migration and immigration is not working; the agreement seems to by only in the areas of accepting highly qualified labour force, improving the mechanisms of control on the common borders and building the retention capacities in often evidently non-democratic countries.

The other current and neuralgic problem concerning the exercise of democratic principles in Europe is the fact the between 1950 and 2000 the proportion of Muslim population increased from 1 to 3 per cent and its total number varies between 14 to 20 million people. The fear of the Muslim presence on the territory of Europe is growing, so creating the conflict of identities, mutual respect, problems of co-existence and thus also of exercising and realisation of democratic principles. It is no surprise that the immigration debates have de facto merged with the ones concerning Muslims, who have become the visible symbol of something alien, distinct and threatening. Muslims today collectively strive for acceptation of their cultural, language, religious and sometimes even political claims. Today, the process of development and strengthening of distinct subcultures and group identities inside western society has become evident. An example could be the over 5.5-million Muslim minority in France that has been significantly influencing French politics and thus the politics of the European Union. In the UK, there are 150 Muslim members of municipal councils and eight mayors, while four Muslims have their seats in the Lords and three in the Commons, which is much more than any other ethnic minority.

The Muslim community is above all connected and characterized by Islam, not only as a religion, but also as a certain cultural framework that helps to identify the Muslim community. Islam as a religion has become an attribute of the community. It is a very important part of the sense of personal identity. Research shows that in European countries, Islam and rituals connected with it are much more resistant against the assimilation pressures compared to other components of minority identity. The appurtenance to the umma is the most important and most vital sign of Muslim self-identification.[11]

It is assumed that Muslims could with respect to their natural birth-rate form one third or even one half of European population.[12] For example in Germany they could reach majority of population around the year 2050/2060, according to the estimates. Even today, thirty to forty per cent of young people under the age of 18 are from other than German ethnic origin.[13]

In the nearest future, Europe should expect the correction of identity. The Islamic tradition is becoming the organic and therefore legitimate part of European political life and culture. Millions of Muslims are the inhabitants of the continent, and though they are trying to merge with the European identity, they are still retaining their confessional identity and culture. An outstanding manifestation which has not been perceived positively by the general public is the growth of the number of mosques and minarets on the European territory. At the end of 2009, focus was put on the Swiss referendum on the ban on minaret construction.  Despite the negative recommendation of the federal government to the voting and the depreciative position of both parliamentary chambers and of a group of Swiss bishops, the plebiscite ended detrimental to cultural variety. On the 29 November 2009, 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters said yes to the ban on minaret construction, with the voter turnout of 53.4 per cent. Nevertheless, there are only three mosques with minarets and one cultural centre on the territory of Switzerland (in Zürich, Geneva, Winterthur and Wangen). The results of the plebiscite invoked intense debates concerning the Muslim integration in other Western European countries (Austria, France, Italy, and the Netherlands). In Germany, the Swiss referendum results appeared in the debates on introducing plebiscites on the federal level as one of arguments both for and against direct democracy. The islamophobic politician Geert Wilders asked for a similar referendum in Holland. In Syria and Turkey, some politicians and congregational representatives asked for boycott of Swiss products. The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was thinking even on declaring jihad on all Switzerland. Another topic connected to migration became the focus of another Swiss plebiscite in November 2010, this time it concerned the deportations of such foreigners who would be found guilty of serious crime or illegal acquirement of social security allowances.[14]

As a matter of interest we can quote the Czech cardinal Miroslav Vlk who perceived the danger that the Old Continent could be “conquered” by Muslims who have the outlook of filling the vacated space with their “spiritual weapons”.[15]  The mentioned phenomena create a general barrier to the current intercultural dialogue and the issue of identities. The strategy of moving Islam to the periphery of political interest and reducing the problem of minorities only to the period of communal elections is unable to solve the growing problems in the cohabitation of two different communities. The lack or non-existence of a complex approach to the co-existence of differing cultures, the leavening of democratic principles or their exercitation only on a certain part of population, they all mean elbow-room for a potential social conflict inside the European Union. More and more we need a conception that would overthrow the condition, when Muslim communities exist and function at the periphery of the interests of the society, a conception that would prevent another creation of enclaves that are created today by the grouping members of the Muslim community. The inevitable condition of successful integration of immigrants is the guarantee of political, social or cultural equality from the autochthonous society, which is currently a huge problem in the countries of Europe.       

Migration flows within Europe as well as the intercontinental ones aiming to Europe are logically now changing, have their certain characteristics, and it is possible to expect their increase, which will – as a result – mean more problems for the mutual democratic cohabitation and applying democratic principles in practice.


1.             BADE, K. J.: Evropa v pohybu. Evropská migrace dvou století. Praha: Nakladatelstí Lidové noviny 2004.

2.             BRUFF, I.: Migranti nejsou proměnné: kritika literatury o migraci a souvisejícího politického vývoje. In: www.migraceonline.cz

3.             DIVINSKÝ, B.: Zahraničná migrácia v Slovenskej republike – stav, trendy, spoločenské súvislosti. Bratislava: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 2005.

4.             FASSMAN, H., MŰNZ, R.: European Migration in the Late Twentieth Century. Laxemburg 1994.

5.             GÓRAK - SOSNOWSKA, K.: Polityka państw arabskich wobec młodieży – wybrane zagadnenia. In: Żukrowska, K.: Nauki ekonomiczno – społeczne i rozwój. Warszawa: Szkoła Główna Handlowa w Warszawie 2008, s. 675- 683.

6.             KADLECOVÁ, M.: Cizinci: zrcadlo španělského hospodářství. In: www.migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2198539

7.             KÁLMANOVÁ, Z.: Integracia  migrantov na trh práce v Taliansku. In: Medzinárodné vzťahy 2008 – Aktuálne otázky svetovej ekonomiky a politiky. Bratislava: Ekonóm 2009, s. 337-349.

8.             KLUS, M.: Multikulturalizmus a migrácia. Nové výzvy 21. storočia. In: Dobiaš, D., Gbúrová, M., Mattová, I.(eds.): Medzikultúrny dialóg. Stav-kontexty-perspektívy. Prešov: Filozofická fakulta PU v Prešove 2009, s. 198-205.

9.             LIĎÁK, J.: Mezinárodní migrace a Evropa. Kolín : Nezávislé centrum pro studium politiky, o.s., 2010.

10.         LINHARTOVÁ, K.: Proces obchodování s lidmi: Kde, jak a proč k těmto zločinům dochází. In: www.migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2120352

11.         PARASCHIV, C.: Afričané a tlukot na mokré dveře Středozemí. In: www.migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2054096

12.         SOURALOVÁ, A.: Care drain versus brain drain: Pracovní migrace žen. In: www.migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2198177

13.         ŠTEFANČÍK, R.: Problém migrácie vo svetovej politike. In: Medzinárodné vzťahy 2007 – Energetická politika EÚ   a boj proti klimatickým zmenám. Bratislava: Ekonóm 2007, s. 739-749.

ŠTEFANČÍK, R.: Medzinárodná migrácia a jej dopady na migračnú politiku vo Švajčiarsku. In: Medzinárodné vzťahy. Vedecký časopis pre medzinárodné politické, ekonomické, kultúrne a právne vzťahy. FMV EU v Bratislave, č. 2/2010, s.

[1] Castles, S.: Understanding Global Migration: A Social Tranformating Perspective. Conference on Theories of Migration and Social Change. www.imi.ox.ac.uk/pdfs/stephen-castles- understandin- global-migration.
[2] See: Bade, K. J.: Evropa v pohybu. Evropská migrace dvou století. Praha: Nakladatelstí Lidové noviny 2004, p. 357-358.  Fassman, H., Münz, R.: European Migration in the Late Twentieth Century. Luxemburg 1994, p. 6. For the year 2008 see Eurostat – Population statistics. htpp://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY PUBLIC/3-16122009-BP/3-16122009-BP-EN.PDF
[3] Štefančík, R.: Problém migrácie vo svetovej politike. In: Medzinárodné vzťahy 2007 – Energetická politika EÚ   a boj proti klimatickým zmenám. Bratislava: Ekonóm 2007, p. 740.
[4] Bade, K. J.: op.cit., p. 369.
[5] Bade, K. J.: op. cit., p. 417.
[6] Kadlecová, M.: Cizinci: zrcadlo španělského hospodářství. In: www.migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2198539
[7] Paraschiv, C.: Afričané a tlukot na mokré dveře Středozemí. In: www.migraceonline.cz/eknihovna/?x=2054096
[8] Gaddafi’s rewards were the agreements on EU’s financial support of several million EUR to build the Libyan migration “capacities”. It was not by chance that one of Gaddafi’s threats after the break-out of the conflict in Libya was the menace of releasing the floodgates of Libyan illegal migration to Europe. Rozumek, M.: Uprchlíci z Líbye rozdělují Evropu. In: http://migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2286497
[9] Rozumek, M.: Uprchlíci z Líbye rozdělují Evropu. In: http://migraceonline.cz/e-knihovna/?x=2286497.
[10] BNP is commonly known due to its organization of demonstrations against immigrants living in the UK. http://www.topky.sk/cl/11/506317/Lode-s-imigrantmi-treba-potapat-tvrdi-europoslanec
[11] This community cannot be identified with the concepts of society or nation that formed in the secularized Europen society. By the term umma Muslims specify the intelligible wolrd-wide community of Muslims.

In: Kropáček, L.: Islám a Západ. Historická paměť a současná krize. Praha: Vyšehrad 2002, p. 77.
[12] According to the statistics, the number of Muslims was reaching 780 million in 1980 while at the beginning of 2004 their number exceeded 1.3 billion. S. Huntington indicates that the statistics show the relative growth of believers with Christianity and Islam. In 1900 there were estimated 26.9 per cent of world’s population declaring themselves as Western Christians; in 1980 it was 30 per cent. The number of Moslims increased even more – from 12.4 per cent in 1900 to 16.5 (or 18 according to other estimates). In the long term perspective, the winner will be Islam. The percentage of Muslims in the global population will grow as a result of their birth-rate, it will reach 20 per cent at the turn of the millennium and later it will exceed the number of Christians and approximately in 2025 it will reach 30 per cent. Last data published in the media seem to prove him right. Huntington, , S.: Střet civilizací. Boj kultur a proměna světového řádu. Praha 2001, s. 63.
[13] Heinsohn, G.: Finis Germaniae? Reflexionen über demografische Ursachen von Revolutionen, Kriegen und politischen Niederlagen. „Die Zeit Online“, 2006, s. 5.  Http://www.zeit.de/feuilleton/kursbuch_162/1_heinsohn?page=all
[14] Štefančík, R.: Medzinárodná migrácia a jej dopady na migračnú politiku vo Švajčiarsku. In: Medzinárodné vzťahy. Vedecký časopis pre medzinárodné politické, ekonomické, kultúrne a právne vzťahy. FMV EU v Bratislave, č. 2/2010, s. 101-102.
[15] http://www.novinky.cz/domaci/188393-kardinal-vlk-varuje-pred-islamizaci-evropy-nem...

Полный архив сборников научных конференций и журналов.

Уважаемые авторы! Кроме избранных статей в разделе "Избранные публикации" Вы можете ознакомиться с полным архивом публикаций в формате PDF за предыдущие годы.

Перейти к архиву

Издательские услуги

Научно-издательский центр «Социосфера» приглашает к сотрудничеству всех желающих подготовить и издать книги и брошюры любого вида

Издать книгу

Издательские услуги


Расcчитать примерную стоимость

Издательские услуги

Издать книгу - несложно!

Издать книгу в Чехии