German Chancellor Angela Merkel has for the first time since the beginning of the migrant crisis last year, admitted she has been wrong in her migrant policies and will consider a new direction.
“If I knew what change in refugee policy the people in Germany want, I would be prepared to consider it,” Merkel told media at a press conference in reaction to the historic defeat her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered in Sunday’s elections in Berlin, Die Presse reports.
Ms. Merkel even went as far as to say that she wished she could go back in time to before the torrent of migrants who flooded into Europe last year saying, “If I could, I would go back in time to be better prepared for the refugee crisis in 2015, for which we were rather unprepared.”
Much like her speech after the results of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern elections earlier in the month Ms. Merkel took responsibility for the poor result. Calling the defeat “bitter” she took full ownership saying, “I take responsibility as party leader and Chancellor.”
The series of electoral defeats in regional elections this year, primarily to the rise of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD), have taken their toll on the resolve of the Chancellor to keep on course with her migrant policies.
Despite her apparent contrition, the Chancellor dismissed out of hand the possibility of actually making any changes to policy. She maintained that she would not fully embrace some of the criticisms from the AfD and others in her own coalition like the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) who have called for a 200,000 migrant cap per year and prioritization of Christian migrants.
“If people don’t want Muslim asylum-seekers purely because of their religion, that is contrary to our party principles and to Germany’s. The CDU and I cannot go along with that,” Merkel said, likely in reference to the CSU’s new policy proposal and the tough on Islam stance of the AfD.
Horst Seehofer, the CSU party leader, who last week threatened not to help Merkel campaign in the 2017 Federal election if a migrant limit wasn’t enacted, said, “It is high time we find common ground to survive at the next election,” adding that both his and Merkel’s parties were looking at, “the most difficult position we have ever been in.”
Some believe that there is not much Chancellor Merkel can really change on migrant policy as she has tried to be tougher on border security over the last few months. A lack of swift and affordable deportations, growing migrant crime and a growing number of terrorist attacks have all fueled speculation that if she does attempt to continue on and run for Chancellor next year, her results may not improve.