Immigration Issues Continue to Pressure Merkel Coalition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that her party’s miserable showing during the September 24 elections was due to growing concerns on immigration. Her decision in 2015 for Germany to receive more than one million migrants was the game changer. She is convinced it influenced Germans to vote for the far right instead of her bloc and the Social Democrats (SPD).

Since losing the majority vote in Parliament, Merkel has changed her stance and is advocating tougher laws for deporting migrants accused of criminal wrongdoing. As talks between potential coalition partners are drawing nearer, leading personalities from her bloc and the SPD offer contrasting view points on how to handle the immigration issue.

Thomas Strobl, Deputy Leader of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) shares his opinion that Germany should set a cap of 65,000 new immigrants per year which is the same level in 2012. This is a significant rollback on the 200,000 limit proposed by the group before.

However, Sigmar Gabriel who is the Foreign Minister of SPD suggested providing financial incentives for municipalities around Germany and Europe that take in refugees:

“That way municipalities would decide themselves how many refugees to take. That would avoid citizens gaining the impression that refugees get everything and we get nothing. The European Union could establish a program to help municipalities in poorer countries with the financing.”

Germany’s longstanding position is for the number of immigrants to be proportionately divided among the European Union’s member countries. The immigrants are mostly people from the Middle East and Africa whose regions are ravaged by war or wallowing in poverty.

Gabriel’s proposal could be appealing to members of the SPD who are pro- European such as party leader Martin Schulz. Schulz is a former president of the European Parliament.

Since their party’s disappointing performance at the polls, SPD has taken a more conservative approach when it comes to forming large scale coalitions.

Party Deputy Chairman Hubertus Heil believes the new government should invest 12 Billion euros in education particularly digital learning over the next four years. He is pushing for greater government involvement in education.

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