German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing criticism from his Left flank, including his coalition partner The Greens, over his remarks about migration.
On October 20, Scholz gave an explosive interview in Der Spiegel in which he said too many migrants were coming to Germany and there was a need for “large-scale deportations”.
His comments did not sit well with others in the Socialist party, nor with The Greens.
Serpil Midyatli, deputy federal president and state leader of the Socialist SPD party in Schleswig-Holstein, called for softer rhetoric on the refugee issue: “In asylum policy, the tone is getting increasingly harsh. I doubt whether this will be helpful in the end.”
The youth branch of the Socialist party is also in uproar about the interview. Its vice president, Philipp Türmer, told Der Spiegel: “If the Chancellor claims that the SPD is fully behind his rigid deportation course, I can say: that is not true.”
He stressed his group were “definitely not” the only ones in the party thinking that way. “The rule of law, humanity and fair procedures must remain cornerstones of our asylum policy.”
“If the Chancellor’s statements are true, I see a conflict at the SPD’s national party congress in December as inevitable,” Türmer continued.
Rasha Nasr and Hakan Demir, SPD parliamentarians, published a statement saying deportations should only be a small part of the solution. Steffen Krach, president of Hannover for the SPD, said Scholz’s remarks were not the right way to react to the success of the right-winged Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party.
Orkan Özdemir, Socialist representative in Berlin, said suggesting deporting 100,000 people to fix the problems in the country was “populism”.
Olaf Scholz im Spiegel: „Die SPD steht voll hinter dieser Linie.“
Das wollen wir erstmal auf dem Parteitag im Dezember sehen. In der SPD in der ich bin, gibt es eine ganze Menge Leute, die an der Seite der Schwachen stehen und nicht versuchen, auf ihre Kosten Politik zu machen.
— Philipp Türmer (@PhilippTuermer) October 20, 2023
Similar remarks came from The Greens’ side, a coalition partner in the German Government.
Jürgen Trittin, former minister for Environment, Nature, Conservation and Nuclear Safety between 1998 and 2005, said on X: “Thirty years after 1993, we should have learned that sealing off, deterring, deporting is not a migration policy, but a stimulus programme for racism and right-wing radicals …”
Further to the Left, party leader of the hard-left Die Linke Janine Wissler, said Scholz’s statements were “disgusting”.
In the interview, Scholz said: “We must finally deport on a large scale those who have no right to stay in Germany,” adding: “We must deport more and faster.”
He denied that in saying such, he was taking a new line, claiming he had always had that outlook.
Journalists were sceptical of that and many doubted if The Greens agreed with him but Scholz insisted the federal government was united on the issue.