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Europe turning away from Merkel’s migration vision

October 17th, 2015

As the European summit offers Turkey aid in exchange for keeping migrants within its borders, commentators both on Left and Right think that German Chancellor Merkel took great risks by abandoning pragmatism in favour of her moral vision. They wonder if Merkel can prevail, or if she will be defeated by populist or pragmatic parties as the public becomes increasingly hostile to immigration.

In Magyar Nemzet, philosopher János Boros wonders if Chancellor Merkel “wants to transform Germany into a moral empire”. Boros thinks that while she insists that Europe as well as Germany has a moral duty to help migrants, Germans are becoming increasingly sceptical about whether their country could or should be as open towards immigration as the Chancellor suggests. Boros thinks it was a mistake on Merkel’s side to claim that the future of Europe depends on handling the migration crisis jointly. This suggestion raises the stakes of the political dispute over migration, and risks the disintegration of Europe, in the absence of a joint EU solution, Boros remarks.

Angela Merkel may fail as Germans are growing less and friendly towards immigration, Róbert Friss comments in Népszava. The left-wing columnist also thinks that Chancellor Merkel is acting like a saint rather than like a politician. He explains Merkel’s position with reference to her past as the daughter of a Lutheran pastor who lived for forty years behind the Iron Curtain and thus “cannot abandon moral principles in favour of anti-immigrant populism which is often labelled as realism”. He asks if the Chancellor can withstand increasing criticism from the Left, the CSU as well as from the ranks of her own party. If Merkel fails, PM Orbán’s words that mainstream parties could soon be replaced by more radical and populist movements may become a reality, he fears. If this happens, Friss concludes, Europe will become “a closed, inhumanely pragmatic and egoistic place that would be impossible to love”.

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