Political Debate Heats Up in Germany Over Immigration Policy and Compromises

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The coalition government is at the center of criticism due to record immigration to Germany. The opposition wants the immigration policy to be toughened. Following the increase in the number of irregular immigrants and the doubling of the number of asylum seekers in Germany, one of the countries that receive the most immigration in the European Union (EU), since the beginning of this year, the opposition increased the dose of criticism against the triple coalition government. Voices are rising from the Christian Union (CDU/CSU), which forms the main opposition, demanding a harsher immigration policy from the federal government.

Many senior conservative politicians also demand increased cooperation with the coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) on combating irregular migration. Green Party Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Climate Protection Robert Habeck also gave a positive signal to the opposition by announcing that his party is open to realistic solution steps.

Social Democratic Party member and German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also gave up her stance of rejecting regular checks at the eastern border, where there are intense immigrant arrivals. In an interview, Faeser announced that regular border checks will be carried out at the Poland-Germany and Czechia-Germany borders. So far, Minister Faeser has denied this, arguing that only sudden checks are effective in combating human trafficking.

Demand For A Broad-Based Immigration Policy From The Main Opposition

Friedrich Merz, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, one of the major components of the Christian Union bloc, which forms the main opposition, and the party’s General Secretary Carsten Linnemann emphasized that they are ready to fight immigration in compromise with the ruling tripartite coalition.

CDU General Secretary Linnemann told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that it is possible to act shoulder to shoulder for an asylum compromise, as in 1993. Deputy Prime Minister Habeck also stated that all democratic parties are obliged to help in finding a solution. In the early 1990s, an unprecedented number of refugees arrived in Germany, social debates increased, right-wing tendencies grew stronger, and many far-right and racist attacks and arson attacks were carried out in that period. These include racist attacks in Mölln and Solingen, where people of Turkish origin lost their lives. In 1992, the Christian Union parties, the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party reached a compromise and restricted asylum rights. The compromise was voted in the Bundestag on 26 May 1993. Just three days later, five Turkish origin members of the Genç family lost their lives after an arson attack on their home in Solingen. Rights activists claimed that the compromise strengthened far-right extremists.

Will The Leftist Wing Of The Greens Resist?

The left wing within the Green party has been emphasizing the importance of humanitarian conditions regarding asylum and migration for years, and rejects in principle policies that would isolate Germany in the fight against migration. Therefore, comments are being made that there may be resistance within the party to the statements of Minister Habeck, who is a member of the Green Party.

Speaking to the Augsburger Allgemeine, CDU leader Merz stated that he thought a tougher line should be followed on immigration. Merz said, “We are not consistent in rejections and deportations,” and argued that Denmark should be taken as an example in this regard. The state provides material support to people who are applying for asylum in Denmark and accommodates them in refugee dormitories. Those whose applications are rejected and a deportation decision is issued are sent abroad without waiting.

CDU Deputy Chairman Jens Spahn, also from the opposition, stated that the Geneva Refugee Agreement should be reviewed and said, “It is not a book sent from God to Moses, it can be changed.” Thorsten Frei, one of the leading figures of the same party, also demanded that the European Convention on Human Rights be reorganized. Both agreements are documents that protect asylum seekers against the danger of rapid deportation.

Coalition partner Free Democratic Party General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai demanded a more controlled and limitation-based immigration policy. FDP’s Parliamentary Group Chairman Christian Dürr supported the demand that refugees like opposition leader Merz be given only basic necessities. Greens Co-Chair Katharina Dröge emphasized that no changes can be made in the asylum law. Baden-Württemberg Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz, from the same party, also criticized the CDU’s demands, calling them “radical”. On the other hand, Bayaz also said that his party, the Greens, should not be perceived as the party that only rejects proposals regarding immigration.

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