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On the cusp of re-election, Merkel still has no regrets about 'open-door' policy

John Smith
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John Smith
On the cusp of re-election, Merkel still has no regrets about 'open-door' policy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who was absent from the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday — still says she “has no regrets” over her open-door policy.

At the current moment, though, when polls in Germany point to Merkel's re-election in less than a week's time, her critics — or as she calls them, “angry hecklers” — have gotten louder.

Two years after Merkel opened Germany’s borders to refugees fleeing war and other humanitarian crises in Syria and elsewhere, more than one million migrants have entered the country.

About 50 percent of German voters say the refugees are the most pressing issue facing the nation, according to a recent poll by public broadcaster ZDF.

The government has taken important steps in integrating newcomers, said Thomas Bauer, chairman of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, a nonpartisan think tank, but there are still "a lot of problems in the details."

Merkel had previously stated: “I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint,” she said, adding that she took the right decision during “extraordinary situations that just happen every once in awhile in a country’s history.”

This still continued to be a hot-button issue for those following the election. In fact, she was even been booed and called a traitor at campaign rallies:

"Whichever way the cookie crumbles next Sunday, Merkel will remain chancellor, and Wolfgang Schaeuble will remain as finance minister," Erik F. Nielsen, global chief economist and head of economics and fixed income/currency, commodity and asset allocation research at Unicredit Bank, said in a note on Sunday.

Merkel was self-critical of her own open-door policy yet upholds the notion that other countries should do the same. “That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on. That contradicts the spirit of Europe. We’ll overcome that. It will take time and patience but we will succeed.”

According to multiple reports, many Germans feel that Merkel has set a bad precedent. They're skeptical of her promise that 2015's mass influx won't repeat itself.

"Merkel has handled a very complex topic too simplistically," said Berliner Thomas M. at a cafe on the Sonnenallee. He asked that his last name remain off the record, a custom among privacy conscious Germans when speaking to the press. "This isn't a problem that will be solved anytime soon."

Photo credit: Flickr