Has Angela Merkel’s Welcome Culture Worked In Germany?
Germany goes to the polls on 24 September in national elections that will return a new parliament – the Bundestag – and decide whether Angela Merkel remains chancellor for a fourth consecutive term. Comfortably re-elected in 2013 and the leader of Europe’s largest economy since 2005, “Mutti” or “mummy” Merkel is seen as the ultimate safe pair of hands at home, and as a uniquely powerful stabilising force on the continent – at a time when world political nerves are jangling. Boosted by a steady economic recovery and alarming developments abroad, in particular the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in the US, her popularity has bounced back after dipping during the 2015 migration crisis. Hopes in Europe are now high that a Merkel victory – her CDU (Christian Democrat Union) party has a double-digit lead in the polls – could, with France’s reformist president, Emmanuel Macron now installed in the Élysée, usher in far-reaching, and necessary, EU reform. Broadly trusted and respected on the economy and as a world leader, Merkel’s unexpectedly liberal open-door policy towards refugees and migrants, which led to about 900,000 newcomers arriving in 2015, cost her the support of part of her CDU base (though it appealed to some younger voters). Along with immigration, security is also a theme after a series of terror attacks, including the Berlin Christmas market truck attack that killed 12 people. But with her popularity now restored, Merkel’s campaign is about not rocking the boat. This article focuses us on how her open door policy on immigration is faring.
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