German Chancellor Angela Merkel was furiously spinning yesterday’s proposed deal with Turkey over migrants as a “breakthrough”, while her colleague in the negotiations, Dutch PM Mark Rutte, more comically said that Turkey had “moved the goalposts, but in a positive sense.” Some of the press led with words like “breakthrough” and “game changer” in the titles of their pieces and suggested that European unity on the matter, while not guaranteed, was at least holding up admirably. (We, for the record, were a bit more skeptical.)
But back in Germany, right ahead of key regional elections this weekend, a bombshell of a story—a leaked police report on the impact of the already-admitted migrants and refugees—was dominating discussion:
The report says ‘immigration will lead to more crime and increased police usage’ to combat it.
The number of crimes – of violence, sexual, property theft and narcotic offences – will rise, says the paper of the North Rhine-Westphalian department of the interior whose ‘Immigration’ project involves both individual states and central government.
The document, entitled ‘Challenges To And Impact On The Police’, was leaked to news magazine Spiegel. […]
The report warns that as well as rising crime in the future, Islamists are ‘agitating’ in asylum homes, increasing the risk of radicalisation among disaffected refugees.
It said there have been ‘hundreds’ of incidents in the past few months where Salafists ‘have sought contact with refugees’.
Even without the report, Merkel was quickly forced to go on defense by a press that smelled blood with regards to the Turkish deal:
Asked if she and the EU were being blackmailed by Turkey as desperate ministers tried to avoid a rerun of last year’s migration crisis, when more than a million migrants flooded into Germany, Mrs Merkel replied: “No.”
“We are seeking a balance of interests,” she told the German SWR radio station. “We have our interests, Turkey have theirs.”
And her coalition, already rickety after months of disagreements over Merkel’s open door policy, appeared to wobble some more. The General Secretary of Merkel’s coalition partner party in no uncertain terms criticized the deal’s terms: “The CSU is against an EU-entry for Turkey, and against full visa-liberalisation for Turkish citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Merkel’s coalition was already set to take a drubbing in the upcoming regional vote according to polls:
Polls have predicted a setback for the CDU at this weekend’s regional elections. They also show that the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AfD), established in 2013, would win seats in the Bundestag if national elections were held now.
Last weekend AfD pushed the Green party into fourth place in council elections in the state of Hesse, which includes the financial centre of Frankfurt, and reduced the majorities of the CDU and the centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD).
Similar results are expected from the state elections on Sunday in Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt. Eva Högl, vice-chairwoman of the SPD in the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, said that the prospect was terrifying and that AfD was following an “unspeakable course”.
“If they enter the state parliaments with double digits, and maybe even the federal parliament, this will change the whole German community in a very negative way,” she said.
AfD must be rubbing its hands with glee as it heads into the weekend.