Immigrant mayors are thinly spread in Europe. There are a number of mayors and lord mayors in Britain with an ethnic minority background but they have largely a ceremonial role. In Germany there is a village with an engineer from India as mayor. In Belgium the socialist politician Emir Kir, who is of Turkish descent, may become mayor of Sint-Joost-Ten-Node. But countries like Sweden and Norway, which have welcomed immigrants for years, have no immigrant mayors.But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t time for self-congratulation, while the nutty ideas can be heard between their teeth. That a village of 100 inhabitants where there are virtually no “non-aboriginals” need to find one somewhere to keep up appearances, with the obvious obsession with race is something worth trumping the vote, just as it was two decades ago with the idea that there need to be “elected quotas” of women.
France is a modest exception. Of the roughly 36,000 local councils, around ten have a mayor of immigrant descent. Most of these are villages of a few hundred souls. The most important is the left-wing politician Eddy Aït, with Berber parents and openly homosexual, who has been mayor of the Parisian suburb of Yvelines-sous-Poissy (population 14,000) since March 2008.
"France's singular position has to do with the fact that its mayors are directly elected," says Laure Michon, who researches the political representation of immigrants at Amsterdam University. "Half of the councils have fewer than 3,000 inhabitants and it's easier to become mayor on the basis of a personal network."
Rotterdam's new mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, illustrates the Netherlands' forward position when it comes to the participation of immigrants in politics.All that is quite impressive – until you consider that it’s roughly mimicking a pattern that took place in American cities on a larger scale half a century ago, and in a prior wave with immigrants from the Mediterranean nearly a century ago.
It is almost impossible to overestimate the symbolic value of Ahmed Aboutaleb's career: born in Morocco, moved to the Netherlands as an adolescent, local councillor in Amsterdam, junior minister and, from January 5, mayor of the country's second biggest city Rotterdam (population 583,000).
"His[Aboutaleb's] position speaks to the imagination," says Andreas Wüst, political researcher at Mannheim University in Germany. "He has to be an example to many immigrants, and not just in the Netherlands."Or rather the LACK of imagination of people trying to peddle irrelevant genetic attributes as a “Change and Hope” agenda, bypassing entirely the idea of political platforms, and a sort of desperate search to keep up with the idea of “finding their Obama” for its’ own sake.
Let’s be frank: most immigrants to Europe are more family oriented and are better disposed to a anti-syndication, anti-socialistic, non-intervetionist view of economy and society, and yet the press will search high and low for the few that can be radicalized to the left, and act as a de facto gatekeeper to their ability to make their electibility understood. Nothing nothing could be further from the idea of free, open, and participatory governance than the unspoken social agenda of the talking heads who only seem to be looking for new servile ‘friends’ to give them the feeling that their activism has a purpose in the world, and sating their feeling of being needed.
Otherwise, all you really need to do is show these boffins some other ‘victims’ to convince them of their benighted advocacy is indispensable to civilization. I wonder if it dawns on them that immigrants will perceive that the mushy middle-minded find a comparative equality of interest in house-pets as they have with them.