Berlin Backlash Reveals ‘Mainstream’ Refugee Wakeup
Center-right parties in Europe begin to question mass migration in the wake of Christmas slaughter
Following Monday’s Islamic terrorist attack in Berlin, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Front National, posed a simple question.
“How many massacres and deaths will be necessary for our governments to stop bringing a considerable number of migrants into our countries without borders, when we know that terrorist Islamists are involved?” she asked in an official statement.
“We owe it to the victims, those affected, and the entire population to re-examine and re-adjust our entire immigration and security policies.”
It seems that in the wake of the horrific incident at a Berlin Christmas market, the governments of Europe may finally be, however reluctantly, willing to discuss the threat of militant Islam honestly.
Of course, right-wing populist politicians had plenty of their usual criticism for German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the Islamic terrorist attack in Berlin.
“The milieu in which such acts can flourish has been negligently and systematically imported over the past year and a half,” Frauke Petry, chairman of the right-wing populist party AfD, said in a statement following the attack in Berlin.
"Germany is no longer safe. It should be the responsibility of the chancellor to tell you this. But since she won't do it, then I'll say it," Petry said. Germans need "control over our territory, no ifs and buts," she continued.
"Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy," tweeted former UKIP leader and lead Brexiter Nigel Farage. But in addition to the outspoken honesty of the usual populist suspects, the wake of the Berlin attack has seen harsh, vocal criticism from more traditionally mainstream politicians — including some in Merkel's own CDU.
"We must state that we are in a state of war, although some people who want to see only the good cannot see," CDU politician Klaus Bouillon told Saarland radio. "We will take it wherever we think it is necessary."
Members of the Christian Social Union — the CDU's Bavarian sister-party — have also lashed out at Merkel's migrant policy.
"We need to talk about this question: What risks do we face now with this big number of refugees here?" Joachim Herrmann, CSU interior minister of the state of Bavaria, said in an interview on local radio. Germans cannot "keep going like that, in which we face a higher risk of attacks by people from a radical Islamist background," Herrmann continued.
Horst Seehofer, CSU politician and minister president of Bavaria, was far more blunt. "We owe it to the victims, those affected, and the entire population to re-examine and re-adjust our entire immigration and security policies," he said.
"Unfortunately… [Merkel's] policy is responsible for this dreadful act. It was she who let migrants enter Germany and the whole of Europe in uncontrolled waves, without papers, therefore without knowing who they really are," said Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis, member of the center-right ANO Party. "Germany is paying a high price for this policy," he said. "The solution is peace in Syria and the return of migrants to their homes. There is no place for them in Europe."
Clearly, center-right parties can see the obviousness of the damage caused by Merkel's encouragement of mass migration and must adjust their policies accordingly — or be destroyed by insurgent right-wing populist and national conservative parties.
There have already been signs of this shift. François Fillon, the French presidential candidate from the center-right Les Républicains Party, has sought to take back ground from Marine Le Pen by shifting the party's immigration platform.
Fillon is calling for a total reduction in the number of immigrants, an overhaul of the asylum system, stricter border controls, and a new focus on assimilation. Unfortunately for Fillon and other center-right parties across Europe, such shifts in policy may be too little too late and insufficiently enticing enough to draw voters away from the more developed and nationalistic policies offered by right-wing populists.
"I call for the immediate restoration of our national borders and the equally immediate cessation of the distribution of migrants in our communities," Le Pen said in her statement. "The Bataclan and Nice [attacks] had shown us in horror, the carnage of the Christmas market in Berlin confirms it: It is the families, the children, the young people, the symbols of our civilizations which are targeted and we have the duty to protect."