By refusing to debate with extreme rightwing parties, we have let their populist policies win the day
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 February 2009
".....The ideas of the extreme rightwing parties must be met head on; we must develop critical, reasoned arguments based on facts and figures to counter the populist manipulation of impressions and feelings. We must refuse, out of principle and conviction, to lend a "cultural", "religious" or, worse still, "Islamic" colouration to social questions. New realistic and effective social policies must be developed, policies that combine the principle of equality with respect for diversity.
Every country in Europe needs immigrants for its economic survival. Instead of brandishing the peril of colonisation, viable, long-term policies must be drawn up – in opposition to the narrow focus on upcoming elections. Parties must reconcile themselves with healthy political practices and reject the logic imposed on them by the extreme right. Far from faith in one's principles, refusal to debate with such parties is little better than a cosmetic device. As we look on, the extreme rightwing parties have achieved their aims: they can play the victim, while looking on as their outlook gains ground in the absence of any real opposition. They have won twice over. And we, defenders of the principles of democracy, have lost almost everything."