Will German Voters Close the Door to Immigrants?

Immigration has been a hot-topic among German voters for quite some time, with over a million asylum seekers crossing their borders in the last two years alone. Concerns over how immigration should be managed and whether or not asylum seekers should be allowed entry in their droves will fuel decision making as German voters head to polling stations on September 24th, alongside other poignant issues such as income disparity and climate change.

The number of foreign nationals residing in Germany has jumped to a staggering 18.6 million in line with the increasing number of refugees entering the country. Consequently, approximately 50 per cent of German citizens who participated in a recent survey have expressed concerns about immigrants being able to integrate properly and about the wider issue of immigration in general.

The public’s concerns regarding integration have been seemingly aggravated by an increase in terrorist activity in Germany, which resulted in the country moving up the Global Terrorism Index (a graph which ranks countries according to how severely they are impacted by terrorism) in 2016. Germany’s anti-immigration political parties have seen a surge in support as a result of this situation.

It seems Germany is not alone in its worry over immigrant integration, as several other European countries including Austria, Sweden and Switzerland have pin-pointed this issue as a key public concern. These figures come from the Challenges of Nations study published this year, which interviews over 27,000 individuals across 24 different countries.

Current German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel, has seen a continuing drop in support in the run up to the coming election, a situation which may have been worsened by her “open door” policy to immigration. Merkel came under fire for this stance late last year after a Berlin terror attack saw 12 people killed. She stands by her refusal to consider setting an upper limit on the number of asylum seekers allowed entry into Germany – a point which has seen her widely criticized by competing parties and the German public alike.

Despite this controversial declaration, Merkel maintained a fair lead on the opposition, which has only recently narrowed considerably, indicating a possible shift in public opinion on key issues such as immigration. The most recent polls suggest that Merkel is still set to remain in power after the votes have been cast on September 24th.

This data suggest that another term of coalition government between Merkel’s CDU and the second highest ranking party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is likely. Though the Free Democratic Party and the Green Party have made considerable gains, which surveys suggest is largely down to their stance that Merkel’s “open door” immigration policy must be brought to an end.