Sunday, October 17, 2010

Probably because you've yet to even try, Ms. Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel came out at her party conference that Germany's attempts to dabble in multiculturalism and pluralism "has failed," citing the fact that a poll recently stated that "30% of Germans think the country is overrun by foreigners."

Now, this can be attributed to many things: bad economy fuels resentment to new immigrants seeking jobs, Germany's historical nationalism and strong cultural identity, and the fact that Germany itself has failed to provide a proper footing for new immigrants into the country, as compared to Canada, where according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), Germany falls far behind on key things like labour market access, anti-discrimination policies, and access to nationality (citizenship). The only thing that Canada falls behind Germany on is immigrant's participation in the political process, as Germany has successful programs to get out the vote that Canada does not (and we should maybe learn from).

Polling noted by MIPEX also shows the difference between Canada and Germany. However, even though there are a lot more Germans against multiculturalism and immigrants in general, there is a good portion of them (about 47%) that believe there isn't enough done to combat discrimination against immigrants. This all being said, the polls are a few years old (2006-2007), and perceptions may have changed.

Which brings us back to Ms. Merkel, her CDU/CSU party, and the current German government. Merkel's government has fallen behind on integration policies drawn up under her first term with the Grand Coalition of her party and the Social Democrats, including those brought in by her right-wing government, formed last year. This has led to more poverty, more violence, and more resentment all around. Merkel's government is in fact not helping the situation in Germany by stating outright that multiculturalism has failed, that those they invited into their country in the 1960's essentially should have left, and all this other nonsense, while trying to say "immigrants are welcome into Germany."

The fact is, Merkel is trying to play to the angry base of people that are upset and looking for people to blame. Immigrants are certainly the easiest to blame: they came to the country looking for a job, and now we're losing jobs! They came from broken countries with crime, now we have crime! They want to be apart of Germany's system and use our social benefits, now we have none!

Are they real concerns? Sure. I'd be upset to, and immigrants are not necessarily helping by liking a Western country's social benefit system. But, what would you have these people do, really? Go to countries where they didn't have a good safety net? Would you go to a country with shitty services? Would you go to a country with lots of crime? Why do people expect immigrants to do things that they themselves would not?

But, that's a rant for another time. The issue is not necessarily immigrants, but how the government decides to integrate them. Merkel's Germany has failed spectacularly in this regard. If Merkel had worked to help the situation, it's entirely possible that "multikulti" could very well work in Germany. It's not the concept that has failed - it's the government. I'd like to see MIPEX's 2011 report and see what "progress" has actually been made.

Ms. Merkel should realize this and try and take steps to correct it, instead of playing to an angry base that is temporary in its outlook and easily dispatched if you try. If not, let someone else take over. I think I know a guy.


  1. I think she's just so confused about where her support for the next election will come from that she doesn't know what to do!