Germany to set up border camps and turn away migrants on arrival.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel averted a split in her coalition government after she reached a compromise on migration policy, agreeing to set up border camps for migrants and implementing stricter border controls.
Last week, German Interior Minister and the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Horst Seehofer triggered a major political crisis when he threatened to quit the government over the open-door policy for migrants.
“The problem has been deferred. Nothing more,” said the German daily Die Welt. “Merkel conceded in her strife with the CSU—for now. The prospect of losing power amid uncertain global situation and an imminent mutiny made her susceptible to blackmail. But nothing has been solved.” The newspaper described the deal as a defeat for Chancellor’s migration policy, adding that “Merkel conceded what she always wanted to prevent.”
Merkel’s arrangement with the CSU is a “toxic solution,” commented the German tabloid Bild. “The solution may possibly work. One thing though is certain: the atmosphere within the coalition government is poisoned like never before.”
New York Times called it a “spectacular turnabout for a leader who has been seen as the standard-bearer of the liberal European order.” The liberal newspaper was alarmed at the European “nationalism” that “challenged multilateralism elsewhere in Europe is taking root — fast — in mainstream German politics.”
“Merkel has managed to secure the hold on her party by agreeing to the demands of Horst Seehofer. It is not going to go well for long,” predicted the left-wing German daily Die Tageszeiting.
The deal reached late Monday “ends a feud that had been building for some time. Seehofer has been critical of the chancellor’s welcoming policy toward migrants since late 2015, when Merkel decided not to order people turned back at Germany’s borders,” the German TV network Deutsche Welle said. Elaborating the details of the deal, the broadcaster reported:
After plenty of political twists and turns over the past few days and weeks, Chancellor Angela Merkel has achieved a last-ditch agreement to end the dispute between her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). (…)
Merkel said Germany would be putting in place national “transit centers” to “order and steer secondary migration” — the movement of migrants within the EU. The chancellor said the deal would balance national and international approaches to the issue of how to control migration.
“As such the spirit of partnership in the European Union is preserved, and at the same time it’s an important step to order and control secondary migration,” she told reporters. “We have found a good compromise after tough negotiations and difficult days.”
Seehofer, who confirmed he would be staying on as interior minister, said he was “very satisfied” with the “clear deal” reached by Germany’s two conservative parties to “stem illegal migration.” He added that the transit centers would help speed up asylum decisions and, in negative cases, accelerate deportations.
The biggest winner of the coalition squabble appears to be the newcomer Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party. The nationwide INSA poll showed the support for the party at 17 percent, an all-time high. Merkel’s conservative bloc and her coalition partner Social Democratic Party continue to slide in polls in the wake of the crisis.
If the CSU wanted to brandish its right-wing credentials to stave off the AfD ahead of the upcoming state election in Bavaria, the ploy has backfired badly.
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) July 2, 2018
German weekly Der Spiegel described the crisis as “the end of the old order,” saying that the “party that has emerged as the primary beneficiary from all this is the Alternative for Germany (AfD). There’s no better gift the CDU and CSU could give the right-wing populists than to tear each other apart over refugee policy. The CSU’s hope of pushing back competition from the right in Bavarian state elections in September has been shattered. The CSU had hoped to become AfD’s gravedigger, but there’s no chance of that now. Instead, the CSU has become one of the nascent political party’s biggest helpers.”
While the mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic remain fixated to how U.S. immigration agencies clamp down on illegal immigration along the Mexican border, don’t expect outrage over Merkel’s proposed border camps or turning away of the migrants at the borders. That hysteria will remain confined to reports involving the Trump administration.
Despite concessions agreed by Merkel on paper, there is little sign that she has the political will or the means to keep her word. Before the ink of the agreement could dry, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic have refused to participate in any arrangement that involved turning back the migrants at their border with Germany.
Merkel opened the floodgates to migrants when she unilaterally suspended the immigration regulation, or the so-called Dublin rules, in the autumn of 2015—amid cheers from the corporate media, Hollywood celebrities, and liberal elites, one must add. The political landscape of Europe has changed drastically since then. Right-wing governments are firmly in place in Austria, Italy, and most of the Eastern Europe. Merkel needs these very countries to implement the deal she has patched up to keep her squabbling allies together.
The issue at hand is bigger than Merkel’s immediate future as Germany’s Chancellor. With her at the helm, Germany has never stood so isolated in its entire post-war history. Her political survival could come at a heavy price for Germany and Europe.
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