Merkel Proposes to Ban the Burqa: Why and Why Now?

German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses her parliament in Berlin, September 14, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses her parliament in Berlin, September 14, 2012 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

Angela Merkel’s proposal to ban the burqa has caught some of her foreign admirers by surprise.

A headline at the left-leaning Vox reads, “Germany’s famously tolerant chancellor just proposed a burqa ban,” implying it is both intolerant and out of character for Merkel.

Vox is right when it argues the timing is political. Merkel recently announced she will seek a fourth term as chancellor next year and is facing criticism of her immigration policy from the right.

But this is not an about-face. If anything, her open-doors immigration policy was. Read more “Merkel Proposes to Ban the Burqa: Why and Why Now?”

Sound Policies Not Enough to Fend Off Populist Challenge

Angela Merkel Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 2, 2014 (Bundesregierung)

After Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory in the United States, liberal-minded commentators (this one included) looked to Germany’s Angela Merkel to keep the barbarians at bay.

The centrist German leader gave some indications that she’s up to the task of defending liberal democracy and the liberal world order from the nationalist-populist challenge. She conditioned the future of the American-German alliance on shared Western values and urged Germans, after announcing she would seek a fourth term as chancellor next year, to unite and shape globalization “together with others” rather than fight it.

“Openness will bring us more security than isolation,” she said.

Did we read too much into this? Read more “Sound Policies Not Enough to Fend Off Populist Challenge”

Merkel Must Be Careful Not to Repeat Clinton’s Mistake

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

“The people in Germany have never had it so good,” Angela Merkel said on Wednesday — and she exhorted them to stay the course that has brought them this far.

In a speech to parliament that was seen as heralding her campaign to seek a fourth term as chancellor next year, the German leader called for unity on “multilateralism” and “shaping globalization together with others.”

“Openness will bring us more security than isolation,” she said.

That’s quite a reversal for the Christian Democrat, who only a few years ago said Multikulti had failed. Read more “Merkel Must Be Careful Not to Repeat Clinton’s Mistake”

Dark Days Ahead for Liberals

Washington DC at night
Washington DC at night (Pixabay/skeeze)

The light are going out for liberals and globalists around the Western world.

Austria is on the verge of electing its first far-right head of state since the end of the Second World War.

Poland last year switched its centrist, pluralist government for an ultraconservative administration that is threatening the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press.

Marine Le Pen, who leads a party that was once unambiguously fascist, is almost certain to make it into the second round of France’s presidential election next year.

Even in the United Kingdom, the homeland of liberalism, there was an atmosphere of isolationism and xenophobia around the vote to leave the European Union in June.

And now America, “the last best hope of Earth,” as Abraham Lincoln once called it, has elected Donald J. Trump. Read more “Dark Days Ahead for Liberals”

It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge

Sarah Gordon argues in the Financial Times that Britain’s male politicians have failed to rise to the occasion and it is time to hand over to the women. Discipline and maturity may not be their exclusive preserve, she writes, but “the past few days could give one an excuse for believing so.”

There is something to be said for female power at a time when the men in her country’s ruling party appear to be living out their House of Cards fantasies.

Indeed, there is something to be said for female power across the Atlantic as well, where one party is in thrall to a caricature of an alpha male. Read more “It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge”

Making Sense of Merkel’s Immigration Politics

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Brussels, March 15 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

Alex Harrowell has a fascinating piece in Politico about the “secret” to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s survival that argues her refusal to give in to the right on migration is part of a deliberate strategy.

He starts off making much the same argument as we did on Sunday: contrary to what some seemingly pre-written headlines suggested, the state elections in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt that day weren’t really such a terrible blow to the chancellor. Only in the latter, a former East German state that has long been more tolerant of fringe politics, did the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland party get more than 20 percent support. Across the country, it remains stuck at around 10 percent. The much-anticipated backlash against Merkel’s generous immigration policy did not quite materialize.

The reason, we said, is that Merkel is adaptable. She got ahead of public opinion last year by letting in one million immigrants. Now she is backpedalling, freezing family reunifications, for example, and speeding up deportations. All this, we argued, is signaling to right-wing voters that Merkel understands their concerns is moving in their direction.

Harrowell’s take is a different one. Read more “Making Sense of Merkel’s Immigration Politics”

German Christian Democrats Split on Immigration

German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Meise, Belgium, December 19, 2013
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Meise, Belgium, December 19, 2013 (EPP)

As German police made their first arrests this week in connection with mass sexual assaults in the city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition split deeper on immigration.

Federal transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, told the Münchner Merkur that a reintroduction of border controls was inevitable. “The closure of borders will not split Europe,” he argued. “The opposite is true: failing to close borders, that will bring Europe to its knees.”

Later in the day, the Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, told a meeting of Christian Social Union (CSU) leaders in Wildbad Kreuth that Germany should not allow more refugees to enter “uncontrollably”. Those who arrive from “safe” countries should be returned immediately, he added. “This is not an invention of the CSU, but German law.”

Merkel was due to join the party meeting in Wildbad Kreuth on Wednesday. Read more “German Christian Democrats Split on Immigration”

Merkel Shifts on Immigration But Maybe Not Fast Enough

German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2012 (EPP)

German chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend backed plans to extend judges’ power to order the deportation of migrants convicted of serious crimes. It was a concession to the right of her Christian Democrat party, which wants to put an end to the government’s open-door policy.

Merkel said offenders “must feel the full force of the law” and argued that deportations were not only in the interest of native Germans but “the great majority of refugees.” Read more “Merkel Shifts on Immigration But Maybe Not Fast Enough”

Merkel Wins Over Bavarians After Immigration Row

German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters in Valletta, Malta, November 11
German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters in Valletta, Malta, November 11 (European Council)

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies hailed her “first-class” leadership on Tuesday, days after she won the support of her party congress for an immigration policy that had split the right.

“We have an excellent chancellor,” Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union, told a conference of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in Karlsruhe. “Angela, you know this, we support you in all areas.”

Only a month ago, Seehofer, who is also the state premier of Bavaria, had criticized Merkel’s open-door policy and called for fewer immigrants.

On Tuesday, he still cautioned against a liberal immigration regime, saying, “There is no country in the world that can take in refugees without limits and Germany won’t manage this in the long run either.”

But he notably shied away from making concrete proposals for curtailing the flow of people across Germany’s borders. Read more “Merkel Wins Over Bavarians After Immigration Row”

Tougher Immigration Policies Split Germany’s Ruling Parties

German chancellor Angela Merkel confers with her finance and economy ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble and Sigmar Gabriel, January 23, 2014
German chancellor Angela Merkel confers with her finance and economy ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble and Sigmar Gabriel, January 23, 2014 (Bundesregierung)

Having solved one immigration crisis in her coalition government, German chancellor Angela Merkel now faces another.

Last week, she calmed down her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, by agreeing to the creation of “transit zones” on Germany’s borders to control the influx of asylum seekers and temporarily freeze family reunifications.

Her other coalition partners are up in arms about the new policies. Read more “Tougher Immigration Policies Split Germany’s Ruling Parties”