Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) sees Austria’s migration policy as a model for the Federal Republic. The neighboring country teaches “pragmatism instead of ideology”, the course of Germany and especially the traffic light government requires “more Vienna instead of Berlin,” he said on Tuesday during a visit by Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) to Munich. Söder demanded more restrictive measures from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), a “Germany pact against uncontrolled immigration”. The Federal Interior Minister, the traffic light coalition and Scholz would refuse to do so, “Ms. Faeser does not have the strength to act, the Greens are blocking and the Chancellor is silent.”
In Austria, the number of asylum seekers fell by around 30 percent in the first half of the year, as Söder explained. The conservative-green government of Nehammer and Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP), who accompanied the Chancellor to Munich, is relying on faster asylum procedures, deportations and strict border protection; it has also concluded agreements with the countries of origin India and Morocco. On Tuesday, Nehammer spoke of “smart solutions” and a “systemic” approach. He is also concerned with the fight against people smugglers, “the brutal exploitation of people’s suffering must stop.” And it’s about “showing the radicals the clear opposing side of how we can actually take action against irregular migration.” Because the right-wing radicals and nationalists dreamed of walls, this could be “no future for the European continent”.
Söder explained: “Of course we say yes to humanity, humanity and help, but no to complete overtaxing and uncontrolled immigration.” The municipalities are no longer able to shoulder the challenges. “In addition to logistical stability, democratic stability is also quickly beginning to shake.” He and Nehammer have the task of holding their countries together, “which are being oppressed from the edges.” In Austria, the far-right party FPÖ was recently polled at 27 to 30 percent for the National Council, while Nehammer’s ÖVP was only at 22 to 24 percent. Across Germany, the AfD has established itself as the second strongest force behind the CDU/CSU with a poll rating of more than 20 percent; in Bavaria it is also on the rise at a lower level.
Specifically, Söder called on the traffic light to end its “blockade” in European asylum policy; This includes better protection of the German borders and the EU’s external borders. When asked, Nehammer said that he had definitely seen Chancellor Olaf Scholz as an “ally” in the European Council on the migration issue, “it was a tough task for this process.” For Söder, it is also necessary to stop the special reception programs for migrants in this country, and he explicitly mentioned Afghanistan. At the same time, a special repatriation program is needed, especially for deporting criminals. For this purpose, the list of safe countries of origin must be “significantly” expanded, for example to include the Maghreb states, Armenia or India. Incentives for migrants should be reduced by switching to benefits in kind. For Bavaria, he announced a “chip solution” with which asylum seekers can only purchase certain goods.
The Ministry of the Interior in the Free State has been working on models for this for some time. The CSU had already promised this in the 2018 election campaign, but to date it has not been implemented. In any case, migration – despite pressure from the municipalities in the context of capacities for Ukrainian war refugees – has not yet been an overarching issue in the Bavarian state election campaign; The CSU has also not played it particularly offensively in the past few months. And this despite the fact that a BR Bavaria trend had already shown in January: Immigration is a big concern for people in Bavaria.
On Tuesday, the Austrian press that traveled to Munich was also interested in the leaflet affair surrounding Deputy Prime Minister and Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters). At the press conference in the Hofgarten, in front of the State Chancellery, which was also flagged with the Austrian flag, this could be heard everywhere in conversations on the sidelines. Specifically, a journalist from the neighboring country asked Söder about the FW’s sharply rising poll numbers since the incident.
As he did at a CSU meeting last Friday, Söder spoke of “fever curves” that were characterized by “solidarity” – this was not yet the actual decision of the Bavarian voters. Surveys also showed approval and competence ratings for him and the CSU. Aiwanger himself did not take part in the cabinet meeting with Nehammer on Tuesday. There had recently been a lot of whispers in political Munich about the minister’s international skills in the wake of the anti-Semitism allegations; The reason for the excused absence was that Aiwanger’s son was starting school. Söder said this when asked. “That was of course a reason to accept it.”