With the elections in Germany fast approaching and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on the ropes in most public polling, most of the attention has been focused on her open borders policy and the millions of new arrivals who have been flooding the nation. Merkel has backed off to a certain extent on some aspects of this approach, but for the most part she continues to have to own that decision. But how dedicated was she to the prospect in the first place? In a new report coming out of Germany we learn that the period in 2015 when the welcome mat was rolled out for refugees was fraught with unrest and the policy was almost canceled before it had a chance to get off the ground. (Daily caller)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was hours away from shutting the southern border to Austria at the start of the refugee crisis before changing her mind last minute, according to a new report.
Merkel opened Germany’s border to thousands of refugees stuck in Hungary with her iconic, “We can do this,” declaration in early September, 2015. She repeated the phrase several times as more than one million refugees arrived over the next year.
Welt am Sonntag now reports Merkel’s grand coalition decided to shut the gates and turn away refugees just a week after declaring the border open.
These signals of indecision are going to come as a surprise to many people. Merkel has managed to provide at least the public perception of a steady hand on the tiller in terms of her policies throughout her time in office. It seems to have just been an article of faith that the Chancellor was essentially “all in” on having her nation take in as many new arrivals as wished to cross the border. The CDU may not have been entirely onboard at all times but they were willing to follow her lead. Yet now we find out that Germany was within moments of slamming the gates shut on the flood of refugees less than a week after flinging them open. That’s the sort of thing which undermines the current message.
These conflicting signals aren’t going to do anything to solve yet another problem which Merkel has been facing in recent weeks and months. As the New York Times reported back in February, Merkel’s initial response to attacks from the more conservative wing in her country over immigration was to begin softening her stance and backpedaling a bit. This produced the unwelcome result of the socialist left-wing in Germany beginning to bring their own criticism against the Chancellor.
The center-left Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has served in Ms. Merkel’s coalition government as foreign minister for seven years, won the presidency with 931 votes in the 1,260-member assembly that elects the president to a five-year term.
Despite being a largely ceremonial position, the presidency provides stature and an important platform for Mr. Steinmeier, a popular and charismatic politician. In his brief acceptance speech, he encouraged Germans to be bold in difficult times.
“If we want to give others courage, then we must have some ourselves,” he said on a day when many other speakers evoked the country’s dark past and its emergence as a democracy after the Nazis’ defeat in World War II.
Angela Merkel has a few too many irons in the fire right now. She is constantly being questioned about Germany’s relationship with the United States in the Trump era on top of the other challenges she’s trying to keep under control. She’ll be visiting Washington for a meeting with Trump in the coming weeks (further angering her base) and she’s already spoken with VP Mike pence. At the same time, she’s facing a growing dilemma in the form of Germany’s relationship with Turkey. You may have missed the news, but a German journalist has been imprisoned in that nation as part of President Erdogan’s crackdown on the Free Press.
Enemies to the left and enemies to the right. Angle Merkel may still wind up winning another term as Chancellor this year, but it’s not going to be the kind of smooth ride she enjoyed in the past.