You know fears over immigration and the rise of the far-right are boiling over in Germany when even the Greens are calling for a crackdown on illegal asylum seekers.
In a remarkable intervention on Monday, Green co-chair Ricarda Lang — whose party is usually known for advocating a moderate course on migration — criticized key officials from her two coalition partners for not doing enough to ensure that asylum seekers without a valid reason to stay, such as fleeing a warzone, are being sent back to their home countries.
There’s no doubt the political temperature is rising fast in Germany. A poll published Tuesday showed that the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party has become the strongest political force in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, making it the fourth eastern German state — after Brandenburg, Thuringia and Saxony — in which the far-right is leading in polls. This is particularly spooking established parties as the latter three states are heading to the polls in September next year, raising the possibility that the AfD might, for the first time, win power at state level.
The Greens’ Lang lashed out at Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), and Germany’s special envoy for immigration, Joachim Stamp from the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), saying that they must “finally make progress on repatriation agreements” with non-EU countries to facilitate the deportations. The government must act “to avoid more and more people arriving,” Lang said.
These unusual remarks from a senior Green politician come as the FDP of Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Monday adopted a position paper vowing to cut social payments for asylum seekers. The FDP also wants to convince its coalition partners to declare Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as “safe” countries of origin, which would make it easier to send asylum seekers from those countries back home.
These actions highlight the extent to which Germany’s ruling coalition of the SPD, FDP and Greens is beginning to panic as migration numbers keep rising — in August alone, about 15,100 illegal border crossings were registered, marking a 40 percent increase compared to July — and an increasing number of Germans are turning toward the AfD.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned Wednesday that Germany “is at breaking point,” as 162,000 people applied for asylum in the country within the first half of the year. That’s “more than a third of all applications within the EU,” Steinmeier added in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera.
It isn’t helping Faeser that even the widely respected former German President Joachim Gauck criticized the government and called for more radical solutions.