Merkel gets backing on refugee crisis
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has brought her party into line: the CDU voted in favour of a motion on refugee policy by a large majority on Monday. This means the upper limit on refugees the CDU's sister party the CSU was pushing for is off the agenda. Commentators believe Merkel won't have to deal with any more criticism from within her party for now and hope that others will follow the example set by the "post-national" chancellor.
There are alternatives to populism
European politicians should follow the example given by the German chancellor in her speech, the liberal daily De Standaard believes: "Merkel admitted that even the strongest European states have limited capacity to take in refugees. But, she said, it's not 'masses' we're taking in, but people. ... Merkel is showing that the decision to focus on the human aspect of the migration problem does not automatically lead to ruin. Political leaders can also choose not to be dragged along by populism. To avoid that, however, she must invest her entire political capital in encouraging a recalcitrant population to believe in its own power and identity."
Practically a post-national chancellor
Merkel has shown with her speech that for her thinking European is more important than taking account of the sensitivities of her party base, comments the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "For the CDU boss the Schengen system is one of the key achievements of the last decades - also because of the major advantages it entails for the German economy. Merkel believes that an EU that is not capable of mastering the refugee crisis would be betraying its most fundamental values. And she believes that if the German border is closed the ensuing backflow would destabilise the entire Balkan region. Merkel - and this is now one of her problems with the CDU - is now practically a post-national chancellor. If she believes that a solution is the best for all of Europe, she will prefer it to one from which only Germany would benefit. This inevitably leads to her becoming alienated from Germany's Christian Democratic Union."
Merkel gets a reprieve
Merkel may have won a battle against her critics in the refugee crisis but she still hasn't won the war, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments: "She has emerged strengthened from the party conference - but she also knows that she has only been given a reprieve. And that reprieve is not solely the result of her powers of persuasion. The delegates know that they have no alternative to Merkel. And this lack of human resources forces them into obedience. Moreover for a party that has been in government for ten years, 38 percent support in the polls is not bad. … But Merkel has not yet won a victory. If the refugee numbers don't go down noticeably - and not just in the winter because of the weather, but also in the spring - she will face the same problem again. Her critics will grow louder and louder. The whole thing will start up once more but Merkel won't be able to count on being in a position to bring the situation under control with a speech and a few new words."