81% of Germans say Merkel has made a mess of the migrant situation as her popularity hits five-year low
- Chancellor has dropped 12 points to just 46% in approval poll in one month
- 88% are in favour of reducing benefits for ‘integration-reluctant’ refugees
- 63% say there should be limit to how many asylum seekers are allowed in
- Germany saw 1.1 million migrants arrive last year and 91,000 last month
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity ratings have plunged to five-year low in the wake of the refugee crisis engulfing her country.
In the latest poll by broadcaster ARD, a massive 81 per cent of Germans do not think she has a handle on the asylum seekers problem.
It came as the government said more than 91,000 asylum seekers arrived last month, underlining the pressure the country faces to diminish the influx of migrants.
On a personal level Mrs Merkel lost 12 points from a poll conducted last month and now has an approval rating of just 46 percent.
She has slipped from number one to number three of the most popular politicians behind foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Furthermore, Germans are strongly in favour of new restrictions on migrants: 88 per cent of respondents are in favour of reducing social benefits for ‘integration-reluctant’ refugees – those who refuse to attend language or assimilation courses.
And the classification of the Maghreb states of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as safe countries of origin was welcomed by a large majority – 78%.
Sixty-three per cent thought that a limit to how many refugees should be allowed in was a good idea.
Mrs Merkel has seen her political capital squandered in the past few weeks as a series of ugly incidents involving migrants have served to unite people against her.
The Cologne sex attacks of New Year’s Eve, when hundreds of women were targeted by mobs of immigrant men who molested and robbed them, was a watershed moment for her ‘open-door’ refugee policy.
Then came evidence that police forces nationwide were suppressing immigrant crime or simply not pursuing migrant offenders.
A video which surfaced at the weekend of three Afghan men assaulting a pensioner on a Munich subway train while passengers look helplessly on fuelled even more resentment against her.
‘The people no longer stand behind the government’s refugee policies,’ said the best-selling daily paper BILD.
‘The Chancellor – until a few months ago the driving force of her CDU party – has fallen massively in favour with the voters.’
In the same ARD poll, the Alternative for Germany party – which outraged many last week with a call for police to open fire on asylum seekers illegally crossing Germany’s borders – now stands at a 12 per cent approval rating.
That is the highest it has ever been in the broadcaster’s monthly take on the national mood.
There are vital regional elections in German states next month in which Mrs Merkel is expected to be seriously punished at the hustings by voters.
The Interior Ministry said today that 91,671 people were registered as asylum seekers in January.
That’s lower than the 127,320 who arrived in December. Officials have said that winter weather was the driving force behind the decline.
In all, Germany saw nearly 1.1 million people arrive last year and officials are keen to ensure that the figures are lower this year.
Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that diplomacy is the key to a solution, and has resisted pressure for unilateral measures such as a cap on refugee numbers.
However, the government has moved to toughen asylum policies.