Migration policy

Fearing Refugee Backlash, Conservatives Get Tough

Police munich-Kerstin Joensson-ap
Refugees have been pouring into Munich's main train station.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Chancellor Merkel is losing popularity on migration. Her conservative party fears a backlash. They think they could lose out to rightwing populists.

  • Facts


    • Popularity figures for Chancellor Angela Merkel have markedly dipped, to their lowest in two years.
    • Germany has declared Balkan states “safe,” their migrants now are ineligible for asylum.
    • National polls show populist right-wing party, the AfD, at 6 percent and rising.
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Thomas de Maizière has had a tough few weeks.

The German interior minister has had to respond quickly to the surge in refugees pouring into the country since summer. He has had to shape new laws and regulations on migration, while facing intense criticism from his Social Democratic coalition partners, as well as a number of state governments. On top of that, he has been an unrelenting cold.

The coming weeks don’t look much better for Mr. de Maizière. His major task right now is to quiet dissenting voices in his own party, making sure, above all, that they don’t grow into a rebellion against Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Opposition to her policies of openness and humanity first appeared in the Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party. But discontent has spread rapidly beyond. The chancellor’s approval ratings have lately seen a distinct dip. Politbarometer, a respected poll from a major broadcaster, is reporting her lowest scores since the last election, in 2013.

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