Sixty percent of Germans would like to see a cap on the number of refugees allowed into the country, according to a new survey. Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly rejected imposing such a limit to ease the refugee burden.
The poll, published in Germany's "Focus" magazine on Friday, found that 60 percent of Germans back a fixed limit on refugees, while 35 percent oppose it.
In the survey, 81 percent of people identifying themselves as supporters of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party were particularly enthusiastic about the idea of a cap. Approval was also high among followers of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at 64 percent, followed by the Free Democratic Party (57 percent), the Left Party (54 percent) and the Social Democrats (52 percent).
Greens supporters were the only group with a majority against a refugee cap.
TNS-Emnid compiled the research after interviewing 1,002 people across Germany this week.
Hot topic in Germany
The possibility of imposing a ceiling on new arrivals has been fiercely debated in Germany following record migrant arrivals in 2015. More than a million asylum seekers lodged applications in the country last year. The level of applications has tested housing, education and integration services.
The CDU's sister party in the southern state of Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is among the harshest critics of Chancellor Merkel's open-door refugee policy. Bavarian state premier and CSU head Horst Seehofer has demanded the number of newcomers be capped at 200,000 per year – a plan Merkel has repeatedly rejected.
Seehofer told news magazine "Spiegel" on Friday he would not budge on that figure, saying it was a "matter of credibility, plain and simple," for his party.
Interior Minister urges EU quota scheme
Also on Friday, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned that establishing a fixed limit on refugees would not help solve the refugee crisis, and could instead have a "pull effect" on potential refugees.
Speaking at a German Bar Association event in the western city of Essen, de Maiziere instead urged EU states to embrace a quota scheme to fairly distribute refugees across the bloc.
De Maiziere denied there had been a "loss of control" during last year's influx. But he did acknowledge there was room for improvement, for example, in speeding up the processing of asylum claims. On the whole, the interior minister added, Germany had handled the "historic challenge" of the refugee crisis well.
nm/jm (Reuters, AFP, epd)