1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Half of Germans skeptical about Merkel's migrant stance

August 29, 2020

Germans are still split over Angela Merkel’s optimism in 2015 about the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants, according to a new poll. However, support for her positive stance has grown in the past three years.

A migrant takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

More than half of German residents are now skeptical about Chancellor Angela Merkel's famously optimistic quote regarding the 2015 migrant crisis, a poll published by the Augsburger Allgemeine on Saturday found.

Read more: Refugees in Germany: From the boat to the Bundeskunsthalle

The survey, carried out by the polling firm Civey, asked the public about the statement "Wir schaffen das!" (We can do this) which Merkel made on August 31, 2015.

The comment was in response to questions about whether Germany could really handle the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants from conflict zones and poverty across Africa and the Middle East.

Support has grown

Of more than 5,000 people surveyed, more than 50% thought her statement was rather or fully inaccurate, while 37% said it had turned out to be completely inaccurate.

More than one in five people surveyed now agree she was right to be so optimistic.

Read more: Five years on: How Germany's refugee policy has fared

Public opinion has become more favorable towards the chancellor's stance since 2017 when the same question was asked. Then, 60% of respondents considered the quote rather or very inaccurate compared to just 34% who considered it rather or very accurate. In the most recent poll, this latter number had increased to 44%. 

Party affiliation remains a strong indicator

In both surveys, opinion was cut across party lines with affiliates of the Green party being most supportive and those of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) more likely to disagree with the chancellor's optimistic view.

Read more: Germany: African migrants injured in gang attack near far-right venue

While many countries along the Europe migrant route wanted to turn away the new arrivals, Merkel publicly offered temporary residence in Germany, which prompted large numbers of migrants to leave from refugee camps in Turkey and travel across Europe.

Over the next 18 months, more than 1.2 million people arrived in the country and her decision drew ire from some sections of the German population and members of her own party.

ab/mm (EPD, KNA)