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Opinion

Opinion: What happened to 'Mommy Merkel?'

Chancellor Merkel wants to maintain her approach to the refugee crisis - and that's is a good thing. But she risks alienating her country's people, which has DW's Kay-Alexander Scholz wondering if it will end well.

There is much truth in what German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in

an interview Friday on German public broadcaster ZDF,

like the fact that Europe has avoided dealing with the refugee issue in the past, but that a sustainable solution to the crisis must nonetheless be found.

Merkel explained the measures she wants to push through:

quotas and hotspots at external borders.

She spoke of the fact that German asylum policy is a political hotchpotch and that now, finally, laws have been passed to provide clearer rules, like the rigorous deportation of people not recognized as refugees.

She made it clear that it is

wrong compare refugees with a natural catastrophe like an avalanche

because people's lives and fates always hang in the balance. She called the trafficking of human beings in the Mediterranean inhumane. Now, she said, it's time for negotiations with Turkey to begin to allow the refugees to stay in camps there, and that other issues with regard to Turkey must be put on the backburner. That is what she is fighting to achieve. She hopes that there could even be a

silver lining to the refugee crisis for some Germans

- and she does it without using the world "multicultural." And she also pointed out the fact that the German government at the moment actually has enough money to pay for it all.

Kommentarfoto Kay-Alexander Scholz Hauptstadtstudio

Kay-Alexander Scholz reports from DW's Berlin bureau

As I said, that is all well and good. But what good does any of this do when the people in her country - and her own party - are struggling with so many problems that they can barely lend an ear to these political discussions? Is it because the country's towns and municipalities can barely find any more space for refugees? Is it because fear clouds many people's eyes from seeing what is happening in front of them? Is it because there is a non-parliamentary opposition that is growing and whose members have the potential to be radicalized? Or is it because many members of Merkel's own party just shake his heads and ask themselves where all this is leading?

The risk posed by Merkel's policy is huge. She is counting on finding enough supporters in Europe. At the moment, it does not look like she'll be successful in her search, Merkel admitted in disappointment. The mood in the country is balanced on the edge of a knife. What if fights erupt on the streets - fights between disillusioned refugees who cannot leave their shelters and the ultra-right-wing radicals, radicals who do not all live just in Dresden and eastern Germany? "German Angst" is legendary. If it all comes down to that, will Merkel resign or be thrown out of office - and leave behind the refugees and the problems. Why hasn't parliament voted on an action plan to win broader democratic legitimacy and thus reduce the risk that the situation deteriorates that far?

In the interview, Merkel said she reached the decision to open Germany's borders with a clear head and a little heart. It is time she shows more heart - more emotion - to her people and finds more fitting words. Or time that she finds a way to provoke Germans to contemplate and analyze their own fears. "Mutti Merkel," or "Mommy Merkel," as she has been dubbed will get the job done - people have faith in her. But this faith will be in danger if she cannot find a way to resolve the emotional crises that grip Germany as well.

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