More than four-fifths of Germans have named migration as the biggest challenge their country faces in a new study after a record influx of more than a million migrants entered Germany last year.
Pollster GfK’s latest “Challenges of Nations” report, which annually surveys citizens of EU countries, found Germany is having trouble coming to terms with the migration wave. Already last year a record number of Germans — 35 per cent — cited immigration as their top concern.
After a week in which Germany has been beset with violence, 2015’s figure has more than doubled. Eighty-three per cent of Germans now say last year’s huge immigration influx is the key problem their country faces. An axe attack, a mass shooting, a machete attack, and a suicide bombing all struck German soil within the space of a week, the perpetrators of which all had a migrant background.
Three of the four culprits were recent arrivals to Germany, leaving many people concerned about the huge influx of people welcomed in by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open door” immigration policy.
Set to this backdrop of alarm, this year’s “Challenges of Nations” survey, which started in 1992, found German people were more concerned about immigration than the citizens of any other European Union (EU) nation. Twenty-three nations participated in the study.
Two-thirds of respondents said they don’t mind how the problems immigration poses are dealt with, but other Germans were divided on the issue.
GfK CEO, Raimund Wild, said: “Every seventh person [concerned about immigration] wants it solved in terms of positive integration. Every fifth person opposes any further immigration.” Mr. Wild said that whilst the number of people supporting better integration of migrants has increased, the number of people supporting a ban on migration increased much more.
The survey found migration is seen as a major challenge in other European countries, too. Sixty-six per cent of Austrians cited it as the country’s foremost threat, along with 50 per cent of Swedish and Swiss respondents. In Belgium and the Netherlands, four in ten of people surveyed said migration is a danger to the country, as well as three in ten Britons asked.
Unemployment came a distant second, after immigration, to Germans listing challenges facing their nation. The study’s findings showed a massive turnaround from previous years on this issue. Only 13 per cent of people responded that unemployment posed a big threat to the country, the lowest value in the survey’s history. Just a decade ago, 80 per cent of Germans named it as the nation’s most pressing problem.