Angela Merkel, Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” and Chancellor of Germany, has sparked controversy over remarks she made on Monday saying that multiculturalism is a lie.
Merkel spoke yesterday at a convention of her Christian Democratic Union party, where she argued that multiculturalism (referred to as “multikulti” in Germany) “leads to parallel societies” that is unacceptable in Germany, echoing statements she made back in 2010.
At that time, according to the Washington Post, Angela Merkel spoke against multiculturalism, partly in reference to guest workers who came to Germany from countries like Turkey in the 1960s and, instead of leaving when their work was done, stayed in the country but often failed to integrate fully.
“Of course the tendency had been to say, ‘Let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other.’ But this concept has failed, and failed utterly.”
Back in 2010, according to Spiegel, Angela Merkel faced slumping political support, and her tough rhetoric against multiculturalism appealed to more disenfranchised right-wing voters and those within her party concerned about immigration.
According to BBC News, 30 percent of Germany’s population at that time believed that the nation was “overrun by foreigners” and that the roughly 16 million immigrants who lived there at the time were in the country to take advantage of its generous social benefit programs.
Again, today, Merkel finds herself losing support due to immigration concerns that have fueled a rise in xenophobia and right-wing extremism. It is in this climate that Angela Merkel reaffirmed her position against multiculturalism, making it clear on Monday that immigrants to Germany must learn the language, adopt German values, and follow German laws when they come to the country. Despite this, Merkel still states that refugees and immigrants are welcome in Germany.
Merkel’s speech involving multiculturalism came at a time when Germany has been at the center of the Syrian refugee crisis, which has increased immigration into the country even further. Angela Merkel won Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” because she opened the doors of Germany and said that the country would take in refugees as a “humanitarian imperative.”
The policies of Angela Merkel proved a popular decision on the international front and she was heaped with praise, but they haven’t been welcomed as easily within Germany and even Merkel’s own party. Since Merkel openly welcomed refugees to Germany, the country has become inundated with roughly one million refugees streaming in this year alone. And it seems to be fueling a small reversal in policies, with Merkel stating that Germany is reaching the point of not being able to take in any more refugees, according to the Daily Mail.
“We want to, and we will, noticeably reduce the number of refugees… with an approach focused on the German, European and global level, we will succeed in regulating and limiting migration.”
The multi-pronged approach to easing the effects of the refugee crisis on Germany involves increasing border security on the edges of Europe, working with Turkey to keep more migrants within that country, and sticking to an unpopular redistribution plan that will see refugees spread amongst EU member countries. As well, Germany is working faster to deport asylum seekers and refugees who have had their applications rejected.
Angela Merkel received a seven-minute standing ovation from attendees at the CDU convention. Merkel’s statements helped address the concerns of disenfranchised CDU party members and right-wing voters and assured those frustrated with Germany’s recent immigration policies that Germany would stay true to its roots. It also confirmed that Angela Merkel was still committed to not just bringing in refugees, but also having them integrate as opposed to creating a multicultural society.
[Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images]