Germany, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, has driven the debate on the handling of migrants in recent weeks, but there are signs that domestic tolerance is becoming stretched. At the same time some local governments are looking at measures which risk further anger, such as compulsory rental of private property for migrant housing.
When Chancellor Merkel first announced that Germany would open its borders to welcome Syrian migrants, she enjoyed a degree of support from domestic and international media.
Even from the outset Merkel’s move was not without its domestic critics. As Breitbart London previously reported, there were those among her conservative bloc who accused her of sending a “totally wrong signal” to the rest of Europe. Nevertheless the welcome for migrants who arrived in Germany was warm, at least from those who met them at the train stations.
Germany’s Bild newspaper was one of the cheerleaders for migration, despite being a traditionally conservative and nationalist newspaper. It set up its own campaign, backed by politicians, celebrities, and sportsmen, called “Wir Helfen” (“We Help”). Nevertheless it too is now beginning to voice scepticism in a Bild editorial asking “uncomfortable questions.”
One of the questions Bild poses is “how many refugees can we absorb?” The paper explains that up to a million are expected in 2015, which the newspaper says “is in the long run too much” because of a lack of housing. In fact it suggests it is twice the amount Germany can absorb.
Another question asks “is our German asylum law really an incentive for refugees to come to us?” Bild states that benefits paid to migrants are “relatively high.” However, rather than asking for them to be cut so the incentive falls away the newspaper backs Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s call for EU-wide agreements to do away with national differences in benefit levels.
Perhaps most tellingly, Bild asks “what do we know about the people who come to us?” The newspaper rejects reports that terrorists are hiding in the migrant ranks entering Germany, saying there is “no concrete evidence” that is the case. It does, though, accept the warning from Bavaria’s Finance Minister Markus Söder that with many refugees fleeing civil war in Syria, some may perhaps be “civil warriors.”
Meanwhile German television news programme heute has reported that if accommodation for migrants in some areas is lacking, compulsory rental of private properties is “theoretically possible,” and even the ability to “temporarily confiscate” properties is being considered.
This will become more likely in the approaching winter months when pressure on public accommodation will cause local authorities to look at vacant housing.
Cities such as Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Tübingen have all declared that confiscations cannot be ruled out in emergency situations. In February in Olpe, a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, a family inn was subject to compulsory purchase for migrant accommodation, although in that case negotiations for sale were already underway.