The Art of Fear

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The Polish government will call for a referendum on illegal migration, a vote that observers believe is part of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s efforts to stave off a challenge from the opposition in the October elections, Sky News reported.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the referendum in a video published on social media Sunday, where he asked voters if they supported accepting “thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa under the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy?”

The video also depicted scenes of burning cars and street violence in Western Europe, including a black man licking a large knife in apparent anticipation of committing a crime.

The announcement came two months after European Union ministers endorsed a relocation plan that would require bloc nations to share the responsibility for migrants entering Europe without authorization.

Since 2015, the EU’s asylum system faced scrutiny when more than a million migrants – many of them fleeing the Syrian conflict – entered the bloc, prompting disputes among the 27-nation union.

Poland initially was neither an entry point nor a destination country. But this changed two years ago when migrants started crossing into Poland from Belarus, seen by EU authorities as a move by Russia’s ally to create instability in Poland and other European nations.

The migration question and two others – one on privatizing state-owned enterprises and another on raising the retirement age – are set to take place alongside the Oct. 15 vote.

Observers said the referendum is aimed at discrediting the opposition party Civic Platform.

The pro-EU party, which governed from 2007 to 2015, increased the retirement age during its time in power and signaled a willingness to accept a few thousand refugees before it lost power to the PiS.

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