The last time we checked on Angela Merkel's plunging support in the polls, was in early August, when right after the three most recent terrorist attacks on German soil all conducted by ISIS-affiliated refugees, popular support for the Chancellor had plunged by a whopping 12%, with her approval rating crashing to just 47%. This marked her second-lowest score since she was re-elected in 2013. In April last year, before the migrant crisis erupted she enjoyed backing of 75 percent.
Nearly a month later, with the recent terrorist attacks having subsided from memory, a new Emnid poll reveals that the traditional bounce in Merkel's popularity has failed to materialize, and instead 50% of Germans are now against her serving a fourth term in office after a federal election next year.
According to Reuters, half of the 501 people questioned in the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper were against Merkel staying in office beyond the 2017 election, with 42 percent wanting her to remain. In November, the last time Bild am Sonntag commissioned a survey on the issue, 45 percent had been in favor of Merkel serving a fourth term, with 48 percent against.
When asked about her plans for the 2017 election in an interview with public broadcaster ARD on Sunday, Merkel said she would comment on this "in due course", but did not elaborate. Germany's political parties are gearing up for next year's election. Asked in the ARD interview when Germans would get tax relief given that Germany has a budget surplus, Merkel said that would come "in the next legislative period."
Perhaps Merkel's lack of enthusiasm is due to the recent calculation by the head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) who told Bild am sonntag that he expected a maximum of 300,000 refugees to arrive in Germany this year. While less than the 1 million refugees Germany accepted last year, judging by the recent social mood in Germany, this is about 300,000 too many.
"We're preparing for 250,000 to 300,000 refugees this year," BAMF head Frank-Juergen Weise told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in comments due to be published on Sunday.
Germans tend to use the word "refugee" to refer to both refugees and migrants who are seeking protection but do not have refugee status.
Worse, Weise added that if more people were to come than estimated, his office would come under pressure but suggested he was not worried about such a scenario, saying it was instead likely that fewer than 300,000 would come this year.
Actually, that depends: if the refugee deal that Germany cobbled together with Erdogan in March (and which cost Europe €3 billion) were to fall apart, Germany could face not 300,000 but 3,000,000 refugees in the near future. It would also mean the end of Merkel and her legacy.
For now, however, there is some optimism: Weise said Germany took in fewer migrants in 2015 than previously thought because some were registered twice and others had moved on to other destinations. "We'll present the exact number soon but it's certain that less than one million people came to Germany last year," he said. Weise said it would take a long time and a lot of money to integrate the newcomers into the labor market.
He said 70 percent of the migrants who had already arrived were fit for employment but added that the majority of them would be dependent on basic social security provision before they manage to get jobs. He estimated that around 10 percent of the new arrivals had university degrees while around 40 percent do not have formal vocational training but do have practical work experience, he said.
Even so, few corporations have been willing to integrate the refugees into their workforce, prompting Merkel to urge Germany's largest companies to hire migrants. So far this attempt at "persuasion" has not worked.
Meanwhile, Germany remains on edge, and with every incremental terrorist attack on German soil, not only do Merkel's re-election chances slip away as her approval plumbs new lows, but the popularity of Germany's anti-Muslim AfD, whose leader last week urged Germans to arm themselves, surges to new highs,