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Refugees

40 percent of Germans demand Merkel's resignation over refugee policy, poll says

Unhappy with her government's refugee policy, four out of 10 Germans want Chancellor Merkel to resign, a new poll has shown. The news came just after the ruling grand coalition unveiled its new asylum package.

While 39.9 percent of Germans surveyed by the pollster Insa for "Focus" magazine said Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy is grounds for her to step down, 45.2 percent of the more than 2,000 people polled said they did not believe she should leave office. The remaining 15 percent did not state an opinion.

Merkel has long enjoyed high popularity ratings among Germans but that support has dwindled in recent months, particularly as the numbers of asylum seekers entering Germany from the Middle East and North Africa has increased.

Members of Germany's right-leaning Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) were particularly critical of Merkel, with two in three AfD members demanding the chancellor resign.

Among Germany's Left party, 45.4 percent of the survey's participants demanded Merkel's resignation, 44 percent of Free Democratic Party (FDP) supporters and 41.3 percent of Social Democrats (SPD).

The strongest support for the chancellor came from the Greens and Merkel's own Christian Democratic Union members, with lower figures of 30 and 26.6 percent calling for her resignation, respectively.

Asylum package compromise

The results of the poll, which was conducted between January 22 and 25, came just hours after Germany's ruling coalition struck a compromise on changes to asylum laws.

Among other amendments, Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday that Asylum Package II would include a slight change in rules for families seeking to join people granted asylum in Germany.

In the future, Gabriel said, a waiting period of two years would be introduced when reuniting a refugee with family members who "are not being personally, urgently persecuted."

The contentious aspect of the agreement was met with mixed reactions by German politicians. Green Party politician Claudia Roth criticized the suspension of family reunification among refugees. Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF on Thursday, Roth said the decision was "regrettable."

CDU politician Thomas Strobl defended the decision, however, arguing that the Christian Democrats are "in principle always in favor of family reunification."

Half a million Syrians in Germany are currently eligible to family reunification. "There are just simply too many," Strobl said, adding that the decision provides a brief "respite" for Germany.

Rhineland-Palatinate Premier Malu Dreyer (SPD) told German breakfast talk show "Morgenmagazin" that compromises always mean "that you don't get everything you want."

Also speaking to "Morgenmagazin," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the compromise showed that the ruling coalition was "able to act," adding that he hoped the asylum package would be brought before the German government in the coming week.

ksb/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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