(note: the term "Mutti" refers to the nickname that the German media has given Chancellor Merkel)
Late yesterday, the Channel One (ARD) state-run news media came to announce that some massive change was being discussed within the German government. As they laid this out.....you could tell that the 'reader' for the network was a bit aggravated and there was some personal frustration.
The suggested change brewing is this....at some point shortly (if enacted) the Syrians flowing into Germany would not be granted asylum or full-refugee status. The Syrians would be allowed to enter Germany for a period of one year, and the visa would be continually reviewed and allowed for a second year if violent conflict exists within their land. In theory, you could see upheaval existing for five to ten years in Syria, and the individual would continually be granted the right to live in Germany until peace arrived....then they'd be asked to return to Syria.
Accompanying this change is another limitation.....no family members could be given status to leave from any other country and enter Germany to be with their member who walked in and was given temporary status. That would shut a significant door.
As for the rights while on the visa within Germany? The term 'subsidiary protection' was used. It would generally mean that you won't be given a lot of help (education, welfare payments, housing, job training, etc). It's not totally clear.....the news reader didn't want to get into this topic and very little has been put into newspapers this morning to explain the new limits.
So, as this was hinted....the SPD (the partner of the CDU/CSU) went ballistic. What the Chancellors office has said since the hint of a change is that there is "NO CHANGE".
My suspicion is that the Interior Ministry has drawn up the policy and floated it to all parties for discussion. Getting this accepted by the SPD probably won't occur.
If you were watching German news back in March when the Berlin crowd and state-run TV news enthusiasm was maxing out and hyped almost daily, and then watched last night's episode.....you'd say that it's like a 180-degree shift and the party-like atmosphere has come to an end.
Why? What triggered "Mutti" to blink? I have five observations:
1. I think they sat down and looked at 2016, 2017 and so on. There was no reason to think the migration path would shrink. If it was 1.5 million for 2015, then it'd repeat for each of the next three years minimum....perhaps even going up to two or three million walking across Europe to reach Germany. The public was never told of future numbers. The Chancellor had realize that we weren't talking about a one-year situation only.
2. Political election talk will start up in January for the three state elections occurring in mid-March of 2016. I think the state CDU offices let the federal arm of the CDU (sitting in Berlin) know that they were opposing Merkel's strategy and going in a harsh way against it.....because that was the only way to maintain their numbers in the normal election game within each state. Merkel probably asked why, and they finally admitted that the public generally isn't buying into the whole strategy. The three state elections would turn into a frustration vote and go heavily against the CDU and SPD. Merkel then realized the weakness of this whole public policy.
3. The budget guys probably sat down and did a ten-year review of the situation, and I would take a guess that they stated the probable cost of the whole Merkel strategy to be in excess of 150 billion Euro. The naive nature over the policy was that it'd be a couple of billion for the first year and then go down. Since every city and state participating in this housing and help for refugees are demanding to be paid for the action....it's a federal requirement now and must come from the Berlin crowd 'sacred' pot of extra money. You might get away with a ten to twenty billion Euro expenditure. The public won't buy into a 150 billion Euro cost situation.
4. The housing issue has never been really discussed by the Berlin crowd or the state-run news media. The bulk of the 1.5 million refugees were expected to process through....get visas....desire placement in German urban zones....look for housing....and discover that there is a crisis already existing in most all urbanized areas of Germany....lack of affordable housing. It's been discussed for at least five years (long before the refugee crisis came along). You'd have to go out into very rural areas of Germany to find empty houses and apartments. Being sixty to ninety minutes away from any urban zone and potential job, and without any fast mass transit option in the rural zones, that was not an option. The reality is....there won't be enough housing options for refugees in Germany now, and there certainly won't be options for the next wave.
5. As much as the 'crusaders' (the Berlin crowd and the state-run TV media) were fixated on their mission in life....they had placed labels on all that opposed them. At least a dozen different groups existed in some form and were opposing the massive wave of immigrants and asylum seekers coming into Germany. The labels used were harsh words and utilized to convince the general public that there was a right side and a wrong side. Well, by concentrating these dozen-odd groups into one corner.....you were giving them a chance to come together (something that would normally never happen). You were in essence....inventing a radical stage to occur where votes would matter and a radical political party would be able to garner thirty-percent of the vote or more. The Nazis took power with only 37-percent in 1932. I think some reality soaked into the thinking of the policy makers.....they were creating a bigger chaotic mess by their strategy.
What will unfold? I think a cooling period of two weeks will occur, and then some meeting will be convened and this new strategy discussed. Instead of the one-year limit....it'll probably be three-years. Some agreement on families joining will occur....maybe just immediate members only. In the end, the SPD will drag its membership to some basic agreement.
I think all of this will be hard for the state-run news media to tell as a story. They've mounted a brilliant crusade for their position and it'll be a bitter pill to swallow that the crusade has been cut into half and simply not supported by a large segment of society.