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The portrayal of migrants and refugees during election campaigns

Doc. 12953: collection of written amendments | Doc. 12953 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The Parliamentary Assembly recalls that Europe has a long history of emigration, and that, owing to its ageing population, the continent is divided between the need to take in immigrants and the fear that these immigrants will gradually erode cultural traditions and practices in European societies.
2The Assembly considers that the rise of xenophobia is challenging democratic principles and respect for human dignity.
3Although the member States of the Council of Europe already have legal remedies for countering xenophobia and racist speech, the Assembly feels that a real strategy is needed for combating xenophobia, especially during election campaigns.
4During election campaigns, some candidates and political parties habitually present migrants and refugees as a threat and a burden on society, which increases negative reactions among the public to immigration and immigrants.
5These negative reactions are linked to factors such as the feeling of losing control of migration, the fear of differences, the collapse of the employment market and a widespread feeling of insecurity.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5, after the words “the fear of differences”, insert the following words: “and concerns for cultural identity”.

6These factors have thus become electoral issues for certain political parties, which not only help intensify manifestations of xenophobia but also promote the rise of xenophobic populist parties, which are increasingly feeding into a trend which is radicalising government anti-migration policy.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 6, insert the following paragraph:

“The Assembly, referring to its Resolution 1754 (2010) and Recommendation 1933 (2010) on the fight against extremism: achievements, deficiencies and failures, condemns those groups and political leaders who, inspired by racist or xenophobic ideologies, promote or are prepared to condone violence and calls for enhanced ethics in politics to help reduce racist tendencies in society. It reiterates that politicians have a special responsibility to eliminate negative stereotyping or stigmatising of any minority or migrant group from the political discourse, including during election campaigns, and considers that the international election observation missions should pay attention to the issue of racist or xenophobic tendencies during election campaigns and reflect any concerns in their reports.”

7The Assembly notes that the media have a vital role to play here, and bear a major responsibility in shaping the image of migrants and their descendants.
8It also notes that Internet and the social networks play an increasingly important role in spreading xenophobic and anti-immigrant attitudes.
9The Assembly would also like to draw attention to the biased nature of some opinion polls, whose results and complex questions do not always reflect public opinion in its entirety, which can be counterproductive, especially in terms of migrant and migration issues.
10Consequently, the Assembly recommends that member and observer States, and particulary parliaments:

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 10, insert the following paragraph:

“Furthermore, the Assembly invites the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), notably through its Council for Democratic Elections, to carry out a study on the portrayal of migrants and refugees during election campaigns, with a view to possibly amending the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters.”

10.1adopt measures aimed at:
10.1.1establishing a communication policy on the reality of migration flows based on the values of human rights, the rule of law and democracy;
10.1.2ensuring that migrants can fully integrate into the host society by helping them, among other things, to learn the local language, the customs and the laws of the host country;
10.1.3clamping down on irregular entry and helping irregular migrants to return to their countries, or regularising those who cannot and will not be expelled;
10.1.4implementing measures to prevent employers from undermining pay and working conditions;
10.1.5implementing a policy to fight against discrimination;

26 June 2012

Tabled by Ms Tineke STRIK, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Ms Karin ANDERSEN, Mr Andrej HUNKO, Ms Tina ACKETOFT, Ms Gisela WURM

Votes: 68 in favor 4 against 4 abstentions

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 10.1.5, insert the following paragraph:

"the removal of the impediments to democratic participation by granting migrants voting rights, including the right to vote and the right to stand in local and regional elections after a residence period of five years or less;"

Explanatory note

This amendment is based on Resolution 1618 (2008) on the 'State of democracy in Europe, measures to improve the democratic participation of migrants'. Democratic participation is a vital condition for the integration of migrants in society. Furthermore, granting voting rights to migrants ensures that candidates also take the feelings and interests of migrants into account during their election campaign.

26 June 2012

Tabled by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons

Votes: 71 in favor 3 against 4 abstentions

In the amendment 2, before the words “residence period of five years” insert the following word: “legal”.

10.2promote, where appropriate, open and balanced political debates on the migration issue in order to provide optimum replies to the questions and concerns of the general public and to combat all xenophobic ideologies;
10.3encourage political leaders to assume their responsibilities during debates on migration issues and to combat xenophobic rhetoric and ideology;
10.4encourage the media to use factually correct, balanced and fair formulations by providing them with the appropriate data and statistics;
10.5draw up guidelines for opinion polls and all direct democracy exercises, in order to prevent any bias;
10.6develop and reinforce the role of electoral commissions so that they can sanction political leaders if they behave inappropriately before or during elections;
10.7encourage local and regional authorities to work more closely with migrant communities in order to improve mutual understanding;
10.8carry out an objective analysis of the impact of political strategies of radical xenophobic populist parties.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 10.8, insert the following paragraph:

“urge all political parties to adhere to and actively implement and promote the principles contained in the Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society, signed by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and the President of the European Parliament in 2003;”

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 10.8, insert the following paragraph:

“disseminate to the electoral authorities in member States, prior to election campaigns, the 2005 Declaration by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance on the use of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic elements in political discourse.”