German Chancellor Angela Merkel has officially pulled an about-face when it comes to her stance on the refugee crisis. Merkel plans to deport tens of thousands of migrants and to establish policies that will coerce tens of thousands more to leave voluntarily, marking a dramatic shift for the de facto leader of the European Union.
The German Chancellor announced her decision at a parliamentary conference on Friday, where she predicted that 100,000 migrants would leave in this year alone. Up to a third of them, she added, would be forcibly deported by German law enforcement authorities.
Merkel also encouraged local officials to use force wherever necessary to remove those migrants whose asylum applications are denied.
The change in tune comes as Merkel desperately attempts to repair her tarnished reputation both within Germany and across the world. She has been blamed for the refugee crisis, which has seen millions of migrants – many of them able-bodied young men – attempt to receive asylum and government handouts from countries across Europe who already suffer from economic woes.
Local elections throughout Germany seem to be spelling disaster for Merkel’s liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, as voters have turned out in droves to support the anti-immigrant Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party led by small businesswoman Frauke Petry.
The CDU was handily defeated by the AfD in both Merkel’s home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and in Berlin, potentially signaling an upset in Germany’s 2017 federal elections. Merkel hopes to secure her fourth term as Chancellor of Germany despite poll numbers that place her popularity rating at a five-year low.
See how legal German immigrants feel about the migrant crisis: