German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that her government had no intention of watering down recent legislation which helps local authorities pay for refugees, smooth integration of refugees into German society, boost protections for vulnerable migrants and accelerate repatriation of asylum-seekers who have been denied visas.
Merkel’s statements were criticized by media and the opposition as they lobby for a crackdown on immigration, especially after a conservative political party last weekend defeated her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in a regional election.
The electoral triumph, by the anti-refugee party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) represents what pundits consider a "damning indictment" of her management of the refugee crisis.
Speaking at the German Parliament or Bundestag, Merkel said that traditional parties have "a joint responsibility to tackle" the rise of the right. “The AfD is a challenge for all of us in this house and I have no intention of changing the course of my policies."
The head of AfD, Frauke Petry said that people in Germany are waking up, realizing that the chancellor has given up the sovereignty of the country, and blamed Merkel’s asylum policy for the current migrant crisis. More than a million refugees have entered Germany on her watch, Petry said.
Merkel has not officially announced if she will run for a fourth term in next year’s election, but the Der Spiegel news magazine has said she is already planning her 2017 re-election campaign.
Europe is facing, what experts say is its worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II with millions of asylum seekers fleeing from war zones in North Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile a series of extremist attacks have led to the rise of Islamaphobia among Europeans.