Just a few weeks ago, Germans were clapping and cheering as crowds of refugees arrived at train stations bewildered and relieved after their dangerous journeys from war zones in the Middle East.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was hailed as “Mama Merkel,” and many top managers were euphoric at the prospect of so many young workers for an aging country.
“In the best case,” said Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche, the new arrivals could form the “foundation for the next German economic miracle.”
But given the inexorable rise in refugee numbers, talk of the “best case” is receding. And though Ms. Merkel is sticking to the slogan she ultimately will be judged by — “We’ll manage it” — her own party, and many business leaders, are wondering: “Will we really?”
There’s also mounting skepticism among managers over her refusal to limit the right to asylum in Germany’s constitution, the so-called Basic Law.
The latest Handelsblatt Business Monitor shows that 73 percent of managers surveyed believe that Germany can only cope with 500,000 refugees a year at most. Only 4 percent regard more than 1 million — the number expected to arrive this year — as sustainable over the medium term.