Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Portrayal of migrants and refugees during election campaigns: changing approaches

Strasbourg, 02.09.2011 – “Many people in Europe today are overwhelmed by the speed of globalisation, economic crisis and fear of losing grips with the identity of their communities in the face of perceived inflows of migrants and changing societies,” today stated Daphné Dumery (Belgium, NR), PACE rapporteur on the portrayal of migrants and refugees during election campaigns, at the close of a three-day visit to Copenhagen and Stockholm.

“These fears are exploited by extremist parties, whose passionate anti-immigration rhetoric resonates with voters while moderate politicians struggle with reacting to these messages rather than proactively delivering their own,” she said.

“Mainstream politicians must acknowledge that public anxieties regarding immigration – be it border controls, public security or crowding in the labour market – are genuine and need to be addressed. Ignoring these concerns will only alienate voters,” Ms Dumery said. “They must show courage to appeal to their own values and emotions, not just statistics. The language used must be unambiguous, underscore positive associations and focus on real solutions.”

“As politicians, we cannot change the world, but we can change our approaches and set the tone of debates, which must be positive and forward-looking,” she added.