Chatham House, a prestigious think tank in London, recently published a study about the public/private divide in Europe on various political issues. Here is a brief description of the study, taken from the introduction of the paper:
This research paper offers insights into these attitudes. It is based on a unique survey conducted between December 2016 and February 2017 examining attitudes to the EU, as well as to the state of domestic and European politics and society, in 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. The survey covered the two following groups:
- A representative sample of the general public in each country, comprising respondents aged 18 or over, using gender, age and geographical quotas, with 10,195 respondents surveyed online.
- A sample of members of the ‘elite’ – i.e. individuals in positions of in uence at local, regional, national and European levels across four key sectors (elected politicians, the media, business and civil society) – with 1,823 respondents (approximately 180 from each country) who were surveyed through a mix of telephone, face-to-face and online interviews.
The approach was to examine opinions across the European body politic, and for this reason this paper does not explore variations between national subsamples. The elite survey predominantly targeted those based in the member states rather than in Brussels or the EU institutions. While the term ‘elite’ is liable to different interpretations, it serves as a useful descriptor to distinguish between the general public and those individuals likely to have greater interest and in uence in shaping the direction of the EU in the years to come.
There are lots of interesting things in this study, but perhaps the most striking is what it reveals about the public/elite divide on immigration:
It’s as if people in the elite were mostly protected from the bad consequences of immigration, but not from its benefits, while the opposite were true for most people in the public… (A study showed a similar phenomenon in the US, although there is less opposition to immigration overall here, which is not saying much given how much opposition there is to immigration in Europe.) What is really striking is that, on every single point raised in that poll, people in the public are right and people in the elite are wrong. At least, they are if we’re talking about the immigration of poor, unskilled and non-Western people, but this is what people have in mind when they complain about immigration. In fact, not only is the public right, but it’s obviously right.
Of course, the sophisticates don’t know that, because they haven’t actually read the literature which they claim shows the public is mistaken about immigration. So they ascribe the hostility to immigration among the public, which is off the charts, to bigotry and ignorance. As soon as I have more time, which probably won’t be until a few months from now, I plan to publish a series of very detailed posts in which I discuss the literature on the effects of immigration in the West. In the meantime, if you are convinced that the elite is right and that immigration is great for Europe, you should ask yourself why, if members of the elite are right, they have to lie all the time about this. For instance, you should ask yourself why, if immigration really doesn’t make crime worse, the French government under Jospin gave instructions to the police not to release any names when communicating to the press or why journalists systematically replace non-French names by French names when they write on crime. Similarly, you could ask yourself why both the authorities and the media covered up the sexual assaults perpetrated by migrants in Cologne and many other cities throughout Europe in 2016, before the truth finally came out. If these were isolated incidents, you couldn’t conclude much from them, but the cover-up is systematic. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think what I’m saying is true, I don’t have to lie about it.