Is Multikulti Dead? Angela Merkel and Immigration Politics in Germany

Jennie Barker

Abstract


On October 16, 2010, Angela Merkel declared in a speech to her fellow Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party members that Germany’s policy of multiculturalism was a failure, setting off a firestorm of controversy both in Germany and worldwide. Her speech marked an uncharacteristically bold move for the cautious, calculating Merkel. This case explores the environment in Germany when her speech occurred and addresses the factors that contributed to the charged debate surrounding immigration in Germany in the months leading up to her speech. The case also discusses the wave of Islamophobia in Europe and how Islamophobia relates to the larger debate on immigration in Germany. This case focuses on how Merkel should have approached the immigration debate since many immigrants struggle to assimilate into German society and a significant portion of the German population opposes further immigration, while at the same time Germany faces an acute labor shortage. The case also poses the question of how democratic leaders should balance liberal values of protecting basic rights of all individuals with the need to appease a majority who would like to restrict basic rights for a minority population. 


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