The Corner

National Security & Defense

Trouble in Paradise


Merkel’s migrant stance has had a more mixed domestic reception; losing her typically bulletproof position as Germany’s most popular politician. In two separate polls ranking individual politicans recently, Merkel was only fourth in line, behind Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrat), President Joachim Gauck (now nominally neutral) and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democrat).

The main concern for the chancellor is the challenge to her base: most polls show the greatest resistance to allowing in large numbers of refugees among conservative voters. Merkel’s approval ratings had sunk the lowest in the east of Germany, where right-wing political sentiment is strongest.

“Yes, she does have a problem,” Professor Falter says. “There are rumblings of discontent in the party base, and there are rumblings among the electorate. If you look closely at the latest polls, you do discover that something’s being eroded, that something’s crumbling – a lot of skepticism exists.”

To be clear, Merkel’s party is still riding high in the polls, but some scales may be dropping from some eyes.


[The] chancellor’s decision to show a big heart on refugees could turn into a major headache over the next two years, unless Germany can make major strides integrating its newest residents.

Let’s look at Sweden, the ‘humanitarian superpower’ to the north, to see how that might turn out.

The Local:

The International Monetary Fund has urged Sweden to help refugees and other immigrants to access the country’s job market…Sweden has one of the highest differences in employment levels between natives and immigrants in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development): 63.5 percent of foreign-born people held down a job in 2014, compared to 77.7 percent of those born in Sweden….

The OECD explained the difference by the low number of low-skilled jobs available to immigrants “from countries with failing education systems”, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia.

The famously underdeveloped German economy, of course, is well-known for the high number of low-skilled jobs it has on offer.

Back to Sweden:

“Strong migration inflows are an opportunity to secure Sweden’s social model”, the IMF said.

Because the unemployed  will find it easy to pay for the pensions of the retired (and that’s before considering the effect that a post ‘peak labor’ economy will have on structural employment levels in the years and decades to come).​

Meanwhile Handelsblatt reports (my emphasis added):

Presently, German communities are housing refugees in gymnasiums, tents and even containers. Some cities and towns are also being compelled to seize empty and derelict buildings to accommodate the need. Berlin and Hamburg have already started the process of acquiring empty apartments and Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Tübingen have signaled they may soon follow suit. German law allows such seizures to ensure public order and safety.

“Such an impingement on private rights has to be the absolute last resort,” said Markus Sutorius, a lawyer specializing in rental law, who is based in Cologne.

Well. that’s a relief.


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