Angela Merkel is suddenly becoming more hawkish than Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen. To everyone’s surprise, the German chancellor is suddenly speaking out against the burqa. Not only does she think it’s “unGerman” to wear one, but she even believes the burqa should be banned completely. That’s rather surprising coming from a politician who has never hidden her support for the Grand Multicultural Idea.
Angela Merkel has called for a burqa ban wherever “legally possible” and says the full Islamic veil is “not appropriate” in Germany.
The German chancellor made the comments at a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) conference having recently declared she will seek re-election.
She received a large round of applause for calling for the outlawing of the burqa at the conference in Essen, Bild reported.
The populist wave in the United States and Europe has caused Merkel to make a sharp turn to the right. As we reported last month, she suddenly — and surprisingly — announced in November that she would forcibly deport 100,000 unwelcome immigrants. And a few days later, the German leader said the EU should halt its negotiations with Turkey, a country run by an increasingly more authoritarian president.
Both announcements were shocking considering that Merkel has repeatedly told aspiring migrants from the Middle East that they are welcome in Germany. When she was criticized for it because she caused a major migrant wave, one Europe couldn’t deal with, she curtly answered with “Wir Schaffen das.” Translation: “We will make it work.” Apparently, not so much. As for Turkey, Merkel was long known as one of the strongest proponents of talks with Ankara. That too has suddenly changed.
Why the change, you ask? Let me give you a hint: it’s the most important reason any politician can have.
You guessed it: elections are coming up and Merkel isn’t performing as well in the polls as she’d like to.
The main reasons for her less than stellar performance are her immigration policies (which are called “open-door policies” by her critics) and her support for a more powerful European Union. While she could get away with such horrendous policies in the past, that’s no longer the case because Germany now has its very own populist and immigration-sceptic party: the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). Merkel tried to discredit the AfD for a while by portraying the party as “extreme right,” but she has clearly realized that she needs a different strategy. And so she has decided to become Germany’s — no, scratch that: Europe‘s — biggest hawk.
It should be obvious to anyone that Merkel is just playing political games — I don’t trust her for a second and don’t believe she’ll put her money where her mouth is on these issues — but it’s nevertheless a good sign that she’s been forced to make these 180s. It means that she feels the pressure and is afraid she will be the next European leader to be wiped away by the populist wave flooding Europe and the United States.