Chancellor's remarks, which claimed multiculturalism had 'failed utterly', interpreted as a shift rightwards from previous views
[...] Merkel's verdict marks a shift in her previously liberal line on immigration which had always put her at odds with the more conservative wing of the party.
While she stressed in the same speech that immigrants were welcome in Germany and that Islam was a part of the nation's modern-day culture, her remarks positioned her closer to Horst Seehofer, the Bavarian state premier of the Christian Social Union, who last week called for an end to immigration from Turkey and Arab countries.
They also align her with Thilo Sarrazin, the former Bundesbank member whose book on how the failure of many of Germany's 16 million immigrants to integrate was contributing to Germany's decline led to his dismissal.
Sharing the same podium as Merkel in Potsdam, Seehofer also said "multi-culturalism is dead" and that both the rightwing parties were committed to a "dominant German culture". If Germany did not revise its immigration policies, he said, it was in danger of becoming "the world's welfare office".
Seehofer insisted his statement was "an attempt to stop rightwing lunatics" but Jürgen Trittin, for the Greens, called the comments "shabby" and in danger of "lending social acceptability to views similar to those of rightwing extremists". There is a labour shortage in Germany. The chamber of industry and commerce has said that Germany is short of 400,000 skilled workers and that the gap is costing €25bn a year, equivalent to 1% of growth annually.
While industrialists have called on the government to remove obstacles stopping more skilled workers entering Germany, citing lengthy bureaucratic procedures as well as unrealistic thresholds, others say that long-term unemployed German workers should be given more of a chance first. Merkel insisted in her speech that immigrant workers should not be considered "until we have done all we can to help our own people to become qualified and give them a chance".
The issue has caused tension within Merkel's year-old coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats.
Labour minister Ursula von der Leyen, a member of Merkel's party, has said it was an illusion to believe people were queueing up to enter Germany.
"For several years more people have been leaving our country than entering it," she said in an interview. "Wherever it is possible, we must lower the entry hurdles for those who bring the country forward."
Merkel faces pressure to take a tougher line on immigration, particularly on so-called "integrationsverweigerer" or those immigrants who show a lack of willingness to adapt to the majority culture, by, for example, refusing to attend German language classes. [...]
There were hints that this was coming, when Merkel visited Turkey in March, when she stressed that immigrants needed to at least learn the language an integrate, if not assimilate. And there have been ongoing problems with honor killings of women who have tried to integrate or assimilate to German culture.
The article goes on to say that a study showed that 30% of Germans who were questioned believe that Germany is being over-run by foreigners. There are lots of reasons why Merkel is changing her tune somewhat. But whatever the reasons, I'm sure the Leftist multi-culturalists are going to bring out their long knives for Merkel now.