Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is on the ropes. After years of leading the European dynamo, Merkel has sunk to new lows in popularity.
The center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party embraced the ideals of multiculturalism and welcomed the flood of Muslim refugees from the Middle East and North Africa with open arms. Sadly, the decision has backfired on the CDU thanks to surging crime rates, terrifyingly high sexual assault cases, and a crushing economic slowdown (due in part to Germany’s generous welfare state and the major increase in new welfare cases).
On top of that, beleaguered Mrs. Merkel has come under huge political pressure over her enormously unpopular open door asylum policy, which has seen a number of humiliating electoral defeats inflicted on her party in regional elections.
There has been talk in political circles of her one-time allies ousting her as leader of the country unless she agrees to significantly harden her stance on refugees and win back the confidence of voters.
Now, with her party’s prospects dimming, Merkel is warning the world that if she loses Russia may have had a hand in her downfall.
“We are already, even now, having to deal with information out of Russia or with internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information,” the German chancellor said at a press conference alongside the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, on Tuesday. Dealing with that was already “a daily task”, she told reporters in Berlin. “So it may be that this could also play a role during the election campaign.”
Her comments are remarkably similar to ones made by worried American Democrats as the presidential election neared and Hillary Clinton remained mired in controversy.
Washington last month formally accused the Russian government of trying to “interfere” in the election by hacking US political institutions, charges the Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed.
In the US, Russian hackers have been accused of stealing information from Democrat party servers and leaking it in an effort to derail the campaign of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Kremlin has denied the accusations.
The Muslim refugee flood has forced Germany’s politicians (and voters) to reconsider their generous treatment of the migrants in recent days. Now, Merkel and her allies are sounding a far-different note than they previously had as they’ve been heard calling for more stringent rules on migration.
In a statement from the German interior ministry on Monday the government announced a massive shift in their immigration policies.
The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place.”
It added that the EU should adopt a new policy of intercepting refugee boats at sea and returning them to Africa noting that this would “save migrants from the life-threatening journey” and “remove the basis for people-smuggling organisations.”
Under the plan people would be returned to Brussels-sanctioned refugee camps in Tunisia, Egypt and other peaceful north African states, but not to war-torn Libya from where most journeys across the Mediterranean are attempted.
The decision has been unpopular with some of Germany’s EU allies, as well as the African nations who were benefitting from Germany’s generosity. We’ll see if Germany has the fortitude to stay the course or if the pressure from liberal pro-immigration forces will prove to be too much.