German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have scored brownie points with the more than one million refugees when she readily welcomed them into the country over the last two years, but as she kicks off her campaign for a fourth term, Merkel addressed her fellow party members with a revised agenda that will see a large number of those migrants packing and a new ban on full-face veil’s, such as the burqa.
After seeing her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeated in many of the local elections this year, Merkel knew she had to change course in order to reunite the crumbling allegiance and popularity. Her open-door policy, which received praise both at home and around the world early on, has turned into the poison pill that has led to the rise in popularity for some of Germany’s most extreme right-wing parties, including the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“the full veil is not appropriate here”
Merkel addressed CDU delegates at a party convention in Essen on Tuesday, where she was re-elected to act as the party’s leader and chancellor candidate, laying out her plans in a speech that ran just over an hour. At first she approached the subject of refugees by defending her original stance by calling it necessary to combat the injustices taking place in Syria, including human trafficking. That is where her support ended though.
“Not all of the 900,000 refugees who arrived last year will be able to stay,” Merkel stated in her address. “But every single case will be reviewed.”
It was her stance on the controversial burqa’s that received the greatest reaction as she said “the full veil is not appropriate here, it should be forbidden wherever that is legally possible. It does not belong to us”.
Taking a harder stance against the rise of refugees is a welcomed change for the leader, but the change of course will only go so far in what is being considered the toughest political run of her career. Germans who once stood by her during her 16 years in office have abandoned ship, leaving to support other parties that have risen to new highs as a result.
Merkel will face more battles in the coming months as she aims to close tax loopholes that have been abused by large corporations and continues to fight for international trade agreements like TTIP — an issue that is sure to face heavier resistance when Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th.
As the German election season carries on, we can only expect that Merkel will being changing course on other policies that have lost the support of her former supporters.