Germany’s Coming Macron Migration Policy Shocker
Germany’s SPD has long seen Macron as a beacon of hope. But his stance on migration policy will greatly frustrate them – and rob Angela Merkel of her European cover.
- Germany’s SPD has long seen Macron as a beacon of hope. But his stance on migration policy will greatly frustrate them – and rob Angela Merkel of her European cover.
- For the SPD, Macron is a mechanism to introduce their policy preferences through the backdoor, so to speak.
- By German standards, the French President pursues a hardline course on migration.
- The policy consensus in Europe has shifted a long time ago. The Merkel government is basically the odd man out.
- At the EU level, the only government that, aside from Alexis Tsipras in Greece, currently seems to be on Germany’s side is the new Spanish minority government, led by Pedro Sanchez.
Many of Germany’s left-of-center political forces, particularly the SPD, have pinned their hopes on Emmanuel Macron, the young French President.
In their eyes, he stands for the kind of European integration (through a more “social” Europe) that they want, but have been unable to implement in German politics. For them, Macron is a mechanism to introduce their policy preferences through the backdoor, so to speak.
But their love of Macron is going to be sorely disappointed very soon. Because SPD politicians have been so enamored of his Eurozone-related propositions, they have been blind to his stance on migration policy.
Tough on migration
By German standards, the French President pursues a hardline course on migration. His recent domestic reform package on the issue was a clear indication of that.
The key driver of the French government, in contrast to the German one, is realism, not idealism. This is the sober-eyed result of France’s past experience with domestic terrorism and the banlieues.
In addition, the French government uses far more “muscle” on the implementation of administrative measures it deems necessary.
Macron’s recent meeting with the new Italian prime minister is a first, EU-level indication of his much more restrictive stance on migration.
In Germany, meanwhile, all left-of-center politicians chide the leadership of the CSU, the Bavarian sibling of the CDU, for pursuing an overly tough stance on migration. They argue, dismissively and incorrectly, that the CSU’s position is just a function of home state electioneering.
The German left’s sense of shock will be palpable when it discovers that Macron’s policy positions on migration are probably even tougher in substance than what German critics currently try to castigate the CSU for.
The usual way in today’s politics to deal with such a reality shock is to identify the political leader who pursues such a policy as a heartless neoliberal. To which Macron will likely respond that he is just a realist.
And, he will add, a politician who takes the task of forward-thinking political management very seriously.
Germany’s Macron lovers
All of which will greatly confuse Germany’s left-of-center Macron lovers. The very man whom they consider the last beacon of hope for more Eurozone integration will not just end up legitimizing the policy stance of Horst Seehofer (the current German Interior Minister) and his CSU, but robbing them (and Angela Merkel) of their carefully constructed political cover to resist meaningful changes.
All along, Angela Merkel has tried to buy time for her policy approach on migration by demanding an EU-level policy response. Her hope – and that of her many defenders in the German media – is that because such a solution will not be forthcoming, the present German regime of muddling through without taking a clear position could continue.
They will be surprised to learn what has been known for a long time: The policy consensus in Europe has shifted a long time ago. The Merkel government is basically the odd man out.
For all the effort to blame Mr. Orban, Mrs. Merkel is disingenuous. Distasteful as Hungary’s prime minister unquestionably often operates, his border closing helped Merkel greatly to keep a lid on migration in the run-up to and during the 2017 German election campaign. In that regard, he was her biggest (if entirely unacknowledged) coalition partner.
At the EU level, the only government that, aside from Alexis Tsipras in Greece, currently seems to be on Germany’s side is the new Spanish minority government, led by Pedro Sanchez, a Socialist.
But he has much bigger concerns to solve at home than pushing really hard in favor of liberal migration.
1. In contrast to Merkel/s and the SPD’s hopes, the reason why the CSU is likely to have the upper hand is that its restrictive position is favored in most European countries.
2. The ultimate irony is this: Where the German government has been a break on Macron’s vision for a more “social” Europe, the French government will act as a break on the present German government’s policy preference for open borders for migrants.