Angela Merkel, one of the biggest names surrounding the refugee crisis, has come under fire once again after admitting she underestimated the refugee crisis. The blow boosted the AfD–Alternative fuer Deutschland party, an anti-immigration party–to over 21% of the votes in recent exit polls after Merkel addressed the fact that the impact felt by Germans and other European countries was much greater than anticipated. Working to curb the downfall, Merkel, who was recently in China at the G20 summit, backpedaled, telling Bild newspaper, “We did not reduce benefits for anyone in Germany as a result of the aid for refugees. In fact, we actually saw social improvements in some areas. We took nothing away from people here. We are still achieving our big goal of maintaining and improving the quality of life in Germany.”
Plea for Businesses to Hire Refugees
In addition to the contradictory message of Merkel, the Bild reported that Merkel urged local businesses to take part in the refugee crisis by offering employment to more than a million refugees who flooded Germany’s borders last year. Rueters indicated that Merkel has reached out to various executives in some of Germany’s top companies, inviting them to attend a summit next month to discuss the refugee crisis and how they can help alleviate the current flood of unemployed individuals and help reset the balance of the country. Last month, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel also urged large companies to do more for refugees, comparing their efforts to be more like Mittelstand, a small- to medium-sized company that is setting the bar for refugee employment.
Italy Saves Thousands
As Europe continues to struggle with the influx of people flooding their borders, Italy recently rescued nearly 6,500 refugees from the Mediterranean, according to Al Jazeera. The news echoed both the risk and drastic measures that those fleeing areas such as Syria are willing to take in order to find peace and a safe haven. The operation was comprised of over 40 different actions ranging from vessels, humanitarian efforts, and local patrols helping those seeking refuge find a safe place to rest their weary heads. The news quickly traveled across Europe, adding to the complexity and heat Merkel has faced on the subject, causing some to wonder if this once powerful chancellor is on the cusp of losing her seat.
On September 4, 2016, it was confirmed that just one year from federal election, Merkel’s camp lost the home district to the immigration crisis. Chief deputy Michael Grosse-Groehmer, told ZDF TV in an interview, “This isn’t pretty for us. Those who voted for the AfD were sending a message of protest.” Rubbing salt in the wound, co-leader of the AfD, Frauke Petry, went on to comment, “This is a slap in the face for Merkel – not only in Berlin but also in her home state. The voters made a clear statement against Merkel’s disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place.”
Now that the message is clear and Germans are no longer supportive of Merkel’s immigration policy, only time will tell if this powerful leader will crumble under pressure, or persevere in a time of great unrest in both her country and Europe as a whole. With millions of refugees fleeing their home countries every day, Merkel will have to face this issue head on and with great determination, regardless of the final outcome.