Refugee Influx Remains Contentious Issue in Germany

December 15, 2015Germanyby EW News Desk Team

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Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity wanes, as many Germans grow weary of asylum seekers flowing into the country. The government plans to accept up to one million refugees for the year, and the government has no official cap on the number of people allowed inside. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany will need 500,000 new arrivals a year until 2050 to counter a plummeting labor pool. Germany's population will contract 15 percent by the time 2050 arrives, and the workforce will drop 30 percent.

Merkel's popularity has catapulted beyond German borders when she made Time's ‘Person of the Year’ for her acceptance of refugees and role during the Greek financial crisis. However, her political career is on the line, as many voters grow dissatisfied with her border policy. Many members of Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats, fear that the public will turn to other rightist parties during upcoming elections, and this is already happening.

The extreme right Alternative Party for Germany's popularity grew 10 percent and it has pulled voters away from the incumbent party. Hardline members of Merkel's camp have called for a cap on refugees, forcing her to shift more to the right by promising to reduce the influx.

Critics cite the cost burden associated with hosting such a large number of foreigners, including job competition between natives and job seekers from abroad. Government data shows that each arrival costs German taxpayers $13,000 a year, and only 8.0 percent of them find work within the first year. Further, many voters are focused on national security and terrorism, and some people are concerned about the overwhelming arrival of Muslims from the Middle East.

On the other hand, supporters of the refugees argue that they will eventually benefit the economy. First, proponents counter that each refugee on assistance will be able to pay back taxpayers upon entry into the workforce, notes the German Institute for Economic Research. Moreover, the establishment stresses the need for new workers to fulfill jobs as aging workers retire. According to government figures, 55 percent of registered refugees were male below 25 and male during 2015, making them an attractive group to employers.

However, language barriers will be an issue for arrivals in the beginning and a great deal of them, lack the skills and education to do certain jobs, but they stand a chance of gaining the necessary qualifications in Germany's prosperous economy. Germany has the resources and wealth to accept so many people, but this could change given the turbulence of the world market.

The nation remains the strongest economy in the European Union, but declining Chinese demand has taken a toll on the economy, and there is no guarantee that Germany will be able to afford such a large number of people going forward. Germany expects to achieve a 2015 budget surplus, and unemployment levels are at its lowest in over two decades.

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