Immigration in Germany has become a major issue as Angela Merkel attempts to renew a coalition agreement with the Social Democratic Party (SDP). While Merkel’s allies, the CSU, have been pushing for mandatory medical tests for minors seeking asylum, the move has been opposed by the SDP. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. Werner Patzelt.
Dr. Werner Patzelt: Paper which came out of the negotiations about the new grand coalition I was really surprised seeing in the chapter on migration all those demands fulfilled which had been brought forward by the CSU of Bavaria and even of the AfD, including the age verification of the refugees. One could say that the wrong policy approach of Chancellor Merkel and her earlier grand coalition in issues of immigration has been submitted to nearly a U-turn, and if this will really turn out as a new policy approach of Germany towards immigration this will be healthy for Germany’s integrative capacity and will have pacifying effect on the German society, which during the last years was in a process of polarization over migration issues.
Sputnik: It’s been two or three years since over a million refugees and asylum seekers were accepted into Germany, what effect can this major migration dispute in the country have on government policies, has there been a softening of policy in the last two, three years?
Dr. Werner Patzelt: At the beginning of Germany’s openness, late in 2015, there was a lot of goodwill and a lot of illusions and the German inclination towards political romanticism has grown to a new climax, but already in 2016, some sobering experiences were made with refugees and migrants, and in the course of time incremental steps, governmental policy change, cultivating less illusions than in earlier times and in this paper which was published this morning on the new government and its policy, there is a clear statement that the situation like in late 2015 never shall happen again. Therefore illusions have been broken down, political romanticism has come to an end, the goodwill of German society has been overstretched to a certain degree and therefore, we have this U-turn of policy which I spoke of.
Sputnik: In your view, what role do you think right wing parties will now play in Germany and what influence have they had on Germany’s policy making now?
Dr. Werner Patzelt: Well first of all, without the rise of the ring-wing populist party called AfD, this U-turn in migration politics never would have happened. The Christian Democrats know quite well that they are threatened by the rise of the AfD and the Social Democrats have started to understand that a passive approach towards immigration will nourish the future rise of the AfD. Therefore, the rise of German right-wing populism on the one hand will was a consequence of a wrong approach to migration and it is a cause of the modification, of the U-turn, in this policy and therefore you will see quite clearly that democracy works exactly as it ought to work.
Dr. Werner Patzelt, is a leading expert on right-wing movements and political science professor at the Technical University in Dresden.