The government of Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel was rocked by the withdrawal of a major coalition partner over Michel’s intent to sign the UN migration pact.
The pact was negotiated by 180 countries and is due to be signed on Monday. But at least six EU countries will refuse to sign the accord, which was given the green light last summer.
What happened in the interim is a classic case of political leaders getting out too far in front of the people. While the nations signed off on the pact, many have been having second thoughts as the rise of nationalist parties has put a damper on the signing ceremony.
In Belgium, Michel faced a revolt by the nationalist N-VA, the largest party in parliament. When Michel refused to accede to their demand he not sign the treaty, N-VA cabinet ministers quit. Michel says he will continue governing with a minority, but his power will be severely curtailed.
Michel had secured a large parliamentary majority last week in favour of maintaining Belgium’s support of the United Nations text, which since it was agreed by all U.N. states bar the United States in July has run into criticism from European politicians who say it could increase immigration to Europe.
The N-VA faces electoral losses in its Dutch-speaking region to the harder-right, anti-immigration Vlaams Belang. Its leader Bart De Wever, the mayor of Belgium’s second city Antwerp, had issued Michel an ultimatum that it would quit the government if he signed the non-binding U.N. declaration.
A crisis cabinet meeting on Saturday night was cut short when two N-VA ministers, Interior Minister Jan Jambon and Migration Minister Theo Francken, walked out.
Michel said he would replace N-VA ministers with lower-ranked state secretaries and maintain a minority coalition involving his French-speaking liberal MR and two Flemish parties, the centre-right CD&V and Open VLD.
At least six EU states — mostly in formerly Communist eastern Europe — have already shunned the accord to regulate the treatment of migrants worldwide, a sign of how the bloc has turned increasingly restrictive on accepting refugees and migrants alike since a 2015 spike in arrivals.
Why all this trouble over a non-binding, toothless pact?
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to give it its full name, sets out a “cooperative framework” for dealing with international migration. Signatories agree, for example, to limit the pressure on countries with many migrants and to promote the self-reliance of newcomers. The document states that no country can address migration alone, while also upholding “the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law.”
That assurance has not been enough to placate many in Europe. Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made anti-migrant policies his signature issue, pulled out while the pact was being negotiated. But the recent wave of European withdrawals was triggered by conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who renounced the pact at the end of October.
Orban and others clearly see the writing on the wall. It will lead to one more power play by the EU to dictate policy on a matter of national concern.
Stupid, stupid EU elites. With the best of intentions and the worst of plans, they opened their borders to millions of newcomers without regard to the consequences to their national character or the sentiments of their citizens. Arrogantly, they assumed no backlash would come from their sheeple voters.
They were wrong.
Today, they are fighting for their political lives by being forced to adopt many of the positions held by nationalists and populist parties. A fat lot of good it will do them. The ordinary EU voter has been “woke.” And the ramifications for politics in Europe are just beginning to be felt.