Migration and refugee policies will be among the toughest challenges to forming a new coalition government in Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was re-elected for a fourth term in the September 24 federal elections, faces the task of negotiating a coalition of her Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) with the free-market liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Merkel needs to find a way to get the parties to agree on common migration and refugee policies will likely prove to be her biggest challenge. And success will be far from assured.
“The truth is, there is an arithmetical majority, but the four parties each have their own election mandates. Whether these can be allied without contradiction and in the interests of the country remains to be seen,” FDP head Christian Lindner told Die Welt newspaper on September 27.
In an interview with DW ahead of the election, Lindner alluded to the uncertainty which concerned many in Germany following the arrival of more than a million people seeking asylum in 2015 and 2016.
“We’ve got to get a grip on the situation. That’s one of the cornerstones for any coalition. There have got to be changes in our immigration policy,” he said.
The FDP’s migration policy states there be no maximum number of people granted asylum due to persecution. It advocates creating a new category of humanitarian protection for refugees who have fled war zones and other dangerous situations, which would require them to leave Germany when there was peace in their home countries.
As for the Greens, DW reported that their position on refugees, asylum and migration do not differ widely from the FDP. The Greens are strongly opposed to an upper limit for asylum seekers, calling it an “absolute no-go”.
Like the FDP, they want to introduce a points-based, Canada-style immigration policy and the possibility for people who arrived in Germany as asylum seekers to be able to apply to stay on as regular migrants under the points system.
However, unlike the FDP, the Greens do not believe Afghanistan is safe enough to deport rejected asylum seekers.
“In a coalition with us, just like with the CDU and the FDP, there will be no upper limit for refugees,” Greens chair Simone Peter told the Rheinische Post newspaper on September 27.
However, according to DW, it’s the Christian Democrats’ long-time allies, their Bavarian sister party the CSU, that may prove Merkel’s biggest headache to forming a deal on migration.
The CSU wants a limit of 200,000 migrants a year. Bavaria was the main entry point for people seeking asylum in Germany via the Balkan route in 2015. Merkel has consistently ruled out a cap and the pressure on her has eased as the number of people arriving in Germany has sunk.