Angela Merkel has much to worry about after her Christian Democrats’ lackluster performance during the recent parliamentary elections in five of the country’s 16 regions.
Opinion polls blame the CDU’s loss of public support on Chancellor Merkel’s migrant policy and all indications are that in view of next year’s federal parliamentary elections and insistent demands by the CDP’s coalition partner – the Christian Social Union — Angela Merkel has admitted that she was wrong in her migrant policies and is ready to consider a new course.
Briefing reporters after her party’s stunning defeat in Berlin elections on September 18, Angela Merkel said she wished she could go back in time and handle the migrant crisis differently.
“No one wants a repetition of the situation we had here in 2015. Neither do I,” she said.
Angela Merkel believes that she should have anticipated the coming migrant crisis instead of relying on the so-called Dublin accords meant to prevent a massive influx of asylum seekers in Germany.
“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,” Merkel said.
In fact, the government is already backing down from its open door refugee policy, toughening the asylum and temporary residence rules, introducing sanctions against migrants who stay away from “interaction courses” and restricting their freedom of movement across the country.
It had earlier signed a migration pact with Turkey, initiated by Angela Merkel, and agreed to the closure of the so-called “Balkan corridor” used by migrants to reach Western Europe.
These measures have already been bearing fruit resulting in a dramatic fall in the number of refugees arriving in the country.
The government has also plugged many legal loopholes that allowed migrants who are denied asylum to stay in the country, and has signed readmission agreements with a number of countries. As a result, four times more illegal migrants have been deported this year than in 2015.
The authorities have also expanded the list of “safe” countries whose citizens are not entitled to apply for asylum in Germany.
The Christian Social Union wants this list to also include the whole of North Africa. Angela Merkel agrees, but there is a great deal of opposition from the Social Democrats and some regions where the Greens and post-Communists maintain a strong presence in local governments.
In Sunday’s elections in five German regions Angela Merkel’s CDU party was beaten into third place with 19 percent, overtaken by the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which won 20.8 percent of the vote, coming second to the SPD which won 30.6 percent of the vote.