Merkel sticks to migrant course after German polls

Merkel sticks to migrant course after German polls
Updated 14 March 2016

Merkel sticks to migrant course after German polls

Merkel sticks to migrant course after German polls

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she would stick to her course in Europe’s migrant crisis following state elections that sent conflicting signals about Germans’ opinion of her liberal approach and highlighted divisions in her conservative bloc.

Merkel acknowledged that Sunday’s three elections, which produced painful losses for her conservative Christian Democratic Union, were dominated by the migrant issue and many voters believed there is “no conclusive and satisfactory solution.”
However, “I am firmly convinced, and that wasn’t questioned today, that we need a European solution and that this solution needs time,” Merkel said after party leaders met in Berlin.
The nationalist, anti-migration Alternative for Germany, or AfD, powered into three state legislatures after campaigning against Merkel’s welcome for last year’s huge influx of migrants.
That made clear a sizeable minority is uneasy about Merkel’s policies. AfD attracted people who didn’t previously vote, and took votes from established parties.
But many viewed the overall outcome as a sign of support for her approach.
Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, said that Merkel’s “refugee policy was supported by the majority of voters,” even if they ended up voting for other parties.
Merkel’s CDU lost two states it had hoped to win back from center-left incumbents. They included Baden-Wuerttemberg, an economic powerhouse and longtime conservative stronghold where the CDU embarrassingly finished second behind the left-leaning Greens.
Victory there went to governors who often sounded more enthusiastic about her migrant policy than Merkel’s own candidates — whose poll ratings slid after they tried last month to put cautious distance between themselves and the chancellor by calling for daily refugee quotas. That came on top of months of attacks from Merkel’s allies in Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, who want a national cap on refugee numbers.
“The central reason (for the losses) is refugee policy — there is no point in talking past it,” said Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer, Merkel’s most prominent internal critic of recent months. He called the results a “political earthquake.”
“The answer to the population after such an election result cannot be that everything continues as it was,” he added.
Merkel appeared unmoved, disputing Seehofer’s contention that the conservative bloc faces an “existential” threat from AfD’s rise and reiterating that she can’t go into negotiations with Turkey on stemming the migrant flow with a national refugee limit. She added that differences between the CDU and Seehofer’s CSU are “always hard to bear” for conservative voters.
“It is good that there is approval from society as a whole but ... I would like my party, the CDU and CSU as a whole, to discuss such questions in great unity,” she said.


Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint
Updated 29 min 30 sec ago

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint
  • Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration
  • Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists pose a threat to Washington

WASHINGTON: A heavily armed man has been arrested in Washington at a security checkpoint near the US Capitol, where President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated next week, authorities said.
Wesley Allen Beeler, of Virginia, was taken into custody after police found him with a handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, according to a police report obtained by AFP.
He had tried to pass through the checkpoint using fake inaugural credentials, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source.
Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration, after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Five people died in the assault, including a police officer.
Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.
Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.
The National Mall, which is normally packed with people every four years for presidential inaugurations, has been declared off-limits at the request of the Secret Service, which ensures the security of the president.