By Norman Hanert
In presenting the election program of the Union [CDU/CSU, Christian Democrats], Angela Merkel declared as a goal that everyone in Germany should be better off by the end of the next legislative period. And in fact, much points to the likelihood that conditions will change significantly in Germany in the next four years. Whether to the advantage of Germans is an open question.
With unaccustomed clarity and explicitness, in this year’s summer interview on ARD the federal chancellor laid out asylum policy. She sternly declined the upper limit demanded by the CSU. “My attitude toward an upper limit is clear — that is, I will not accept it.” Taking present polls as a basis, there is ample indication of a continuation of present right-of-asylum and immigration in a fourth Merkel term.
Just the mass immigration since autumn of 2015 has changed the picture of Germany, reaching even into the smallest community. Most recently, since the notorious New Year’s Eve in Cologne and the terrorist attack on the Berlin Christmas Fair, it is also obvious that criminal activity and the danger of terrorism have risen along with mass immigration.
This, and the reactions of the Grand Coalition allow the expectation that the social climate will change drastically in coming years. All of the parties thus far represented in the Bundestag adhere to the dogma of open borders. Instead of working against mass immigration, the Union and SPD are only trying to address its negative effects with new laws.
The result is that the liberal rule of law is taking on ever more characteristics that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Bavaria, for instance, now has the possibility of preventive detention in case of serious suspicion of terrorism. Persons may be taken into so-called preventive custody if they may pose a danger to internal security. The number of Muslims who may be suspected of a terrorist attack climbs steadily. At the same time, surveillance of these threats to public safety ties up enormous numbers of police personnel.
So there are reasonable grounds for instituting a preventive custody as in Bavaria. There is nonetheless the danger of abuse. Once a police capability is introduced, instruments such as preventive custody can be used for purposes other than combatting and preventing terrorist acts — for instance, for political goals, as was the case with the “network tracking law” [aka the Facebook law], recently voted into law in the Bundestag in the shadow of the debate on “marriage for everyone.” According to this law, social internet providers like Facebook shall take quick action against hate speech or false news.
Lawyers and trade groups warned beforehand of disproportionate encroachment from the domain of Justice Minister Heiko Maas on freedom of press and speech by means of this law. The steady shrinking of the liberal concept of law under the impact of a fragmenting, multicultural, immigration society could be only one of may trends in the next legislative period.
The Union’s campaign promises of tax relief or SPD’s plans for an “opportunity account” with €2,000 for every qualified applicant notwithstanding, Germans will have to get used to higher financial burdens. As early as this Spring, the Bundestag’s scientific service determined that the care and integration of immigrants in 2016 will cost considerably more than had originally been calculated.
Bundestag Vice President Johannes Singhammer (CSU) summed it up for the Welt: “If you add up the expenses of all the federal states, 2016 cost €23 billion for immigrants and refugees.” Just bringing family members here will ensure that the expenses for this group of people will remain high for a comparatively long time. The Foreign Office estimates that soon 200,000 to 300,000 Syrian and Iraqi family members may be coming here.
It will not only be foreigners in Germany who will continue to cost Germans dearly in the future. Signs in the EU point to consolidating the euro-zone into a comprehensive (bank) transfer union. After a recent meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel confided that she would present specific suggestions for a consolidation of the currency union, after the election.