“Europe’s far right surfs immigration wave,” by Gavin Hewitt for the BBC:
Last week there were two unconnected events in Europe but, almost certainly, they will impact on each other.
In the waters off the southern Italian coast, nearly 400 migrants lost their lives trying to reach Europe.
In a minor by-election in Brignoles, a south-eastern town in France, the far-right Front National led by Marine le Pen won with 53.9% of the vote.
In the months ahead, leading up to the European elections in May 2014, immigration will be at the heart of European politics.
So far this year, 35,000 asylum seekers have arrived off the Italian coast – 25,000 were rescued at sea. The largest number – 10,000 – came from Syria. Almost as many came from the Horn of Africa.
The Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, has called the Mediterranean the “sea of death”. He has announced a state funeral for those who lost their lives in the worst incident.
He believes, as do most Italians, that migration should be managed at a European rather than a national level. The EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has called for the EU to deploy a vast maritime search-and-rescue operation to save lives…