Until recently Angela Merkel, the bloc’s undisputed overseer, seemed unassailable even after a decade at the top.
She’s the only EU leader to have held on to her job through the 2008 financial crisis.
But “mutti” now seems to be facing the biggest political challenge of her career — the enormous inflows of refugees into Europe.
According to at least one analyst, she’s in the process of destroying her own administration.
In a note sent out on Friday, Christopher Wood, managing director of CLSA, had this to say from a recent trip to Europe:
The normally highly-calculating Frau Merkel has seemingly committed political suicide by her initial decision in early September to open German borders. Merkel then acted contrary to the EU’s so-called Dublin Regulation which states that EU member country should examine whether asylum seekers first entered the EU in another member state and whether they should be returned to that country. The move was also against the instincts of most Germans who are not naturally ‘multi kulti’ even though there is a good case to argue that the German economy could do with an increase in population.
German views of the the country’s open-arms approach to refugees are souring.The number of people who agreed that the number of asylum seekers is already too high has slumped since the summer. In July, only 42% of respondents to a YouGov poll said the number was “a little too high,” or “far too high.” In the October survey, that number rose to 56%, with only 19% saying the country could accept more.
Support for the AfD, Germany’s right-wing eurosceptic party, hit 10% in the most recent INSA poll, up from just 3% in July.
Here’s how the number of applicants to asylum in the European Union overall looks:
Germany has become an extremely popular destination, and is taking the lion’s share of refugees, far more than any other country.
It remains to be seen how much more difficult things could get for Merkel. A column this week in major German newspaper Die Zeit was simply titled “The Beginning of the End,” saying that Merkel’s reputation as a cool and pragmatic crisis-manager is evaporating.
A political challenge from Germany’s centre-left looks unlikely, and Merkel is more exposed to an internal coup. It looks like finance minister and one-time Christian Democrat leader Wolfgang Schaueble is waiting in the wings, should an opportunity present itself. On Thursday he referred to the refugee crisis as an “avalanche,” saying that one could be caused “when a rather careless skier goes on to the slope.”
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