PERSON OF THE WEEK - Oct 16-22, 2005
In recent years, I have noticed a disturbing trend toward xenophobia in the politics of many nations. "Anti-Immigration" and "Far Right" parties hsve been gaining serious traction in Europe, with the "Progress Party" recently becoming the largest opposition party in Norway. However, the latest development in this xenophobic movement did not take place in Europe, but in New Zealand. Needing extra votes to prop up a new government, the Labour Party turned to the anti-immigration "New Zealand First" party. As part of the deal, NZ First leader Winston Peters was named Foreign Minister. This is significant in that, as far as I know, Peters has attained the highest postion of any anti-immigration politician (in any country) to date. Peters has also served as Deputy Prime Minister in a previous government, but I think that Foreign Minister is a more powerful position (and I don't know if Peters was as rabidly anti-immigration at that time).
As a conservative, xenophobic movements disturb me for a number of reasons. First, I beleive in opportunity for all. I think that people ought to be able to immigrate to democratic countries to take advantage of the freedom and opportunity that democracies offer, as long as they do so legally. Second, I worry very much about such people transforming from mere xenophobics into all-out racists. Third, I very much worry about such people eclipsing true conservatives as the main spokesmen for the political right in their various countries. If and when that happens, the right wing will cease to be effective, leading to long periods of leftist government.
Luckily, Winston Peters does not seem to be QUITE as much of a threat as I described in the previous paragraph. I can't say that he is an outright racist, because his policies have always been so enigmatic that nobody really knows what he believes. I can also say that his party is not a threat to New Zealand's main conservative party, the National Party, in any way (National has 48 Parliament seats, NZ First has only 8). However, I think that he is dangerous because, as Foreign Minister, he has the potential to make New Zealand look very bad to the international community. I also think that he is significant because he proves that firebrand xenophobic politicians can reach the highest echelons of government. For all of these "acheivements", New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters is ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week.
Honorable/Dishonorable Mentions: Baby Charlotte, Harriet Miers, Patrick Fitzgerald, Hurricane Wilma
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