How will the Berlin attack change politics in Germany?

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22 December
11:04
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
December
2016

With the upcoming elections it might well have an influence. The support for Merkel is still quite high but it might give the AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) a boost. But I say that very hesitantly because there’s also quite a backlash against the AFD. Although they have growing support, it still seems to be limited. I’m not sure if they can get more that 12-15% – which is admittedly quite high compared with what previous right wing parties have gained.

So the question emerges as to whether any gestures concerning Islam, national identity or security will be genuinely in the country’s best interests or how strong there’ll be elements of political tokenism in the run up to the elections.

“The political mood is getting more critical for Angela Merkel. There are people who still support the welcome she offered to refugees into Germany – it's about 30-40% – but they’re in the minority.”

The political mood is certainly getting more critical for Angela Merkel. There are a number of people who still support the welcome she has offered to refugees into Germany – it's about 30-40% – but they’re in the minority.

In her own party, on the right wing, there’s now quite a lot of resistance to Merkel’s refugee policies. People are now saying they need to act against the influx of refugees, that they need to be more stricter and there’s even been talk by one politician of bringing in weapons – I’m not entirely sure when or where he’d use these weapons but he mentioned quite an arsenal.

Angela Merkel has reacted to this. Earlier this year she turned more to the right wing elements of her own party, and also to the country when she recently, in a very curious way, said that she would be in favour of banning the burqa. This gesture is totally symbolic. In Germany there are not many women who wear the burqa. Compared with Britain or France it’s really not a big thing. And to say to ban it wouldn’t change a lot.

  • Berlin, Dec 20: Vigil for the victims of the Christmas market lorry attack. (Getty)

The right wing and the CDU will want to close the borders and to strengthen security. Although Merkel keeps up her rhetoric on welcoming refugees, she increasingly seems to giving in on that.

I’m not sure how much Germany’s refuge policy still can change; the borders already have been closed far more after last year, when over a million refugees were allowed to cross the borders. The AFD will probably demand that no more are let in. And there’s a small left wing party which says Germany still needs to be welcoming, that the problem isn’t national security but actually what is going on in Syria.

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