There is one thing and one thing only politicians eventually respond to: losing votes to another political party over single issues.
Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU sister parties are losing voters thanks to Merkel’s open arms policy on immigration.
Support for SPD, Merkel’s grand coalition partner has dropped to 20%, an all-time low.
Merkel had to do something, and she finally did.
Please consider Germany Plans 5-Year Benefit Ban for Jobless Migrants.
Germany is planning to ban EU migrants from most unemployment benefits for five years after their arrival in dramatic response to rightwing populist assaults on chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal immigration policies.
The proposals, which are far tougher than had been expected even a few months ago, highlight the government’s concern over growing public anxiety about immigration and the related advance of the Alternative for Germany party, the most popular rightwing grouping since the second world war.
Most of the German debate has focused on the influx of 1m refugees from outside Europe. Yet there have also been arguments about the arrival of poor migrants from eastern European EU members — notably Romanians and Bulgarians — whose numbers soared after they secured full access to the bloc’s labour market in 2014.
“I full and clearly support freedom of movement [of workers in the EU],” said labour minister Andrea Nahles, detailing the plans. “But freedom of access to social welfare is something else.”
It is a sign of how much the AfD is shaking German politics that the proposals come from Ms Nahles, a leftwing social democrat. The SPD is suffering even more than Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc in the face of the AfD’s advance. Opinion polls show it around 20 per cent, an all-time low.
The proposals are likely to get a fair hearing from Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc. The Bavaria-based CSU has argued for tougher rules on EU migrants, sometimes courting controversy by associating east Europeans with social security fraud.
Its leader, Horst Seehofer — a leading Merkel critic — said on Thursday he was happy to see “Berlin is taking up years-old demands from Bavaria”.
Ms Nahles said the new laws would conform with EU law. She cited two recent European Court of Justice cases in which German officials’ rights to withhold benefits from unemployed EU migrants were supported on the grounds that the migrants had not been seeking work.
This may discourage future economic migration, but it may be too little, too late, for the migrants already in Germany.
If the ban does affect those already in Germany, what are the migrants going to do but resort to crime to get fed?
Mike “Mish” Shedlock