Wednesday

19th Dec 2018

Merkel vows to win back voters, sticks to migration policy

  • AfD is only three-years old, but has won seats in 9 out of 16 German regional parliaments (Photo: Reuters)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to "win back the trust" of voters after a shock defeat in regional elections, but refused to back down on her policy of welcoming refugees.

“I consider the fundamental decisions as right, but there is much to be done to win back trust and the topic of integration will play a huge role, as well as the repatriation of those who don't gain residency rights,” she said on Monday (5 September) at a press conference at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She spoke after the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won 21 percent of the votes in Sunday’s elections in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region, beating Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) by two points.

"I am the party chair. I am the chancellor. In the eyes of the people, this cannot be separated, and therefore I am of course also responsible," Merkel said.

She defended her government's actions in reducing the number of asylum seekers entering the country, and in giving support to local government in handling the crisis.

With general elections just a year from now, AfD is emerging as a threat to Merkel’s authority, as it polls above 12 percent nationwide.

Germany let in almost 1 million people last year and, this summer, suffered a series of terrorist attacks, with AfD riding a wave of popular fear and scepticism.

The party's co-chair Beatrix von Storch hailed Sunday’s result as “the beginning of the end of the Merkel era”, AFP reported.

Merkel has also come under fire from her Social Democrat coalition partners, who won the regional election with 30 percent.

The SPD leader and vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has systematically attacked Merkel’s motto of “we can do it” on refugees.

“It’s not good enough to just say 'we can do it' and leave the work to others”, he said after Sunday’s result.

CDU party leaders said Germany needs more time to adjust to the changes.

“It’ll take time before all our measures work, and it’ll take time before the trust we have lost can be won back,” the party's general secretary Peter Tauber said on Monday.

AfD has promised to take Germany out of the euro if it wins next year.

But the rise of the group, now the strongest right-wing party in Germany since World War II, has worried some Jewish leaders in broader terms.

"The fact that a right-wing extremist party that agitates and mobilises against minorities in a disgustingly blunt manner can rise in such an unbridled way is a nightmare come true," Charlotte Knobloch, the former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the DPA news wire.

EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says

If EU states, including Germany, had acted earlier and in concert to share burdens and protect external boundaries, the crisis would have been less severe, says the German chancellor.

Under-fire Merkel defends migration policy

The German chancellor sticks by her welcoming policy towards migrants, while a poll suggests more than 50 percent of Germans do not want her to stand for a fourth term in office.

Merkel warns German parties against populism

The German chancellor, in her first speech since the bruising defeat of her party to anti-immigrant AfD over the weekend, defended her migrant-welcome policy.

News in Brief

  1. 3,500 UK troops on standby for no-deal Brexit
  2. Brexit: Opposition disagrees over no confidence vote
  3. EU court confirms suspension of Polish judges law
  4. France to tax Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon
  5. EU negotiators agree CO2 targets for cars
  6. May: Brexit vote will be week of 14 January
  7. Rome finds extra budget funds to fit EU demands
  8. Polish climate talks end in agreement on rulebook

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Muscat's one-man rule poses challenge for EU
  2. Orban protests target state media in new front
  3. Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice
  4. EU gives Switzerland another six months for a deal
  5. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  6. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  7. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice
  8. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us