The outbursts at a meeting of her Christian Democratic Union on Wednesday offer a snapshot of public resistance to Merkel’s open-door policy that’s eroding her poll ratings and voter support for her party. Audience members at the two-hour event in eastern Germany accused the chancellor of failing to do her job, portrayed refugees as ingrates and blamed the crush of arrivals for a housing shortage in the nearby city of Leipzig.
“This is the biggest task I’ve faced in my life as chancellor,” responded Merkel, who earlier told the audience that human dignity is universal and sought to put the refugee crisis in an international context. “I know that it’s a difficult situation. But I wouldn’t give up. Let us be confident and optimistic.”
Several lawmakers in Merkel’s 311-member parliamentary group in Berlin criticized her at a closed meeting on Tuesday for failing to stem the influx, prompting her to respond that a refugee quota is impossible to set, according to two party officials who attended.
Merkel said Thursday that confronting the migrant crisis will require a global approach that includes working to solve the conflict in Syria and aiding Turkey, where she will travel over the weekend, to stem the flow of refugees.