We haven’t checked in on the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe for a while but it’s back in the news this week. While other countries have already been in revolt over the flood of primarily “economic refugees” seeking generous social welfare states, including Denmark and others in the north, Germany has been the big leader for open door policies. This is largely because of Angela Merkel’s early decision to essentially “do whatever has to be done” to assist with the Syrian humanitarian disaster. Unfortunately, her supporters aren’t seeing things the same way these days and the grumbling is growing into a roar. (Yahoo News)
Germany’s Angela Merkel is used to owning the room when she speaks to her party faithful, but the mood turned hostile when she defended her open-door refugee policy this week.
In a heated atmosphere, some of the 1,000-odd members at the meeting warned of a “national disaster” and demanded shuttering the borders as Germany expects up to one million migrants this year.
“Stop the refugee chaos — save German culture + values — dethrone Merkel,” read a banner at the congress late Wednesday in the eastern state of Saxony, the home base for the anti-foreigner PEGIDA movement.
Merkel, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in the communist East, insisted she would stay the course and told party members that “isolation already failed in the days of East Germany”.
It’s hard to say where Merkel is going with this line of defense but there’s really not much of a comparison to be drawn between Eastern Germany during the cold war and the current situation with accepting a flood of migrants (and potential terrorists) from Syria and Iraq. She’s probably going to need a better pitch than that if she’s going to win over her detractors. But that ship may have already sailed.
The heavily conservative newspaper Die Welt has warned that Merkel is “walking on thin ice” at this point and her list of allies is shrinking. Her ruling coalition, primarily comprised of the CDU and CSU (the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and Christian Social Union in Bavaria) are splintered and the CDU reports seeing defections of party leaders in the thousands. Unfortunately for Merkel, she’s also in a political marriage with the liberal Social Democrats who are refusing to turn away refugees in large numbers.
Things have apparently gone poorly enough that local observers are wondering if Merkel’s right hand man might be considering bumping her out and taking control himself.
Bild even asserted Merkel was losing the support of her loyal veteran Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and mused whether he could replace her.
“The refugee crisis is stressing the successful duo,” it said. “He disapproves of what she is doing.”
“Merkel is still the driving force,” it added. “But if it goes on like this, how much longer?”
Merkel has a big heart, but the generosity of her people has been pushed to the breaking point. She may soon need to close the doors for the most part, but this crisis could wind up costing her dearly in political terms. That would be a shame because she’s been one of the most successful conservative leaders in the EU for the last decade.