The International Organisation for Migration contend that the volume of individuals living outside their country of birth has risen from 80 million three decades ago to approximately 180 million people. These vast demographic changes to a state’s population frequently result in many differing threats to the nations societal, economic, political and security structures. A key example of the negative impact interstate migration can have on a state’s status quo is the ongoing societal and political fallout to the Syrian migration crisis in Germany. Traditionally migration into Germany had been steadily increasing in accordance with global migration trends, however the ongoing Syrian civil war resulted in the state’s net migration increasing by 49% through 1 million individuals forcibly migrating into the state in 2015. Stemming from this dramatic rise in population has been a wave of political and social disturbances linked to xenophobia, crime, and far-right nationalism, leading to questions surrounding the stability of the state.
After all, despite the involuntary nature of these individual’s migration, they are often equated as security threats to the presumptive receiving state and its citizens. Primarily, this perception is formed through the idea that vast numbers of refugees will increase both the speed and likelihood of multiculturalism and the breakdown of the German identity. Consequently, in response to this belief Germany has seen a drastic increase in the distribution of anti-migrant rhetoric and has even seen its number of hate crimes targeted specifically against refugee’s double between 2014 and 2015. The overall sentiment of mistrust and fear of refugees was clearly observable during the Leipizig riots in 2016, in which over 200 right-wing extremists where arrested for various crimes linked to weapons, explosives, narcotics and the German right to assemble, thus displaying a sense of lawlessness within Germany.
Unfortunately, the actions and ideas of far-right extremist takes the focus away from the vulnerabilities and human rights of the refugees seeking asylum and gives it to concerns regarding the security of the state, resulting in increased social anxieties and instability towards migration. In this sense, it is therefore not so much the refugees directly contributing to societal tension but rather the inability to consider them not to be security threats.
Significantly, the political structures within Germany have also experienced disturbances resulting from increasing flows of refugees. Correlating with trends throughout Europe, Germany has seen an exponential rise in support for far-right nationalist parties. The Alternative Für Deutschland (AFD) who support an intrinsically anti-migrant agenda have seen their share of the national vote grow from 4.7% in 2013 to 15% according to polls in 2016, which places them as the third biggest party in Germany. The rapid growth in support for the AFD can be considered to be a societal reaction against both potential racial assimilation within the state and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to give all Syrian refugee’s the ability to apply for asylum in Germany. Although the AFD does not currently have a realistic chance of becoming the dominant party in Germany, it’s success does force the more mainstream parties to engage in uneasy and unproductive coalitions in order to prevent the AFD gaining further support. These coalitions threaten to fragment the German political landscape through the slowing of the long-term productivity of the German political system.
Reflecting upon the article, one can contend that Germany is being negatively impacted by the migrant crisis in two ways. Firstly, the increasing flows of migration into Germany has led to the formation of a xenophobic and combative society, creating instability through race riots and racial discrimination as seen in the rise in hate crimes being committed against refugees. Secondly, because of xenophobia within society the political establishment is made unstable through a rise in support for anti-immigration parties. The rise in support for far-right parties increases the pressure on the ruling party to enact more nationalistic policies, however the enactment of such policies would only serve to legitimise claims that migration should be perceived as a security issue and that refugees are a threat to national stability.
To conclude , it is worth noting that these impacts stem from negative reactions to refugees rather than the refugees themselves. In this sense, is it possible that these repercussions would not exist if there was an absence of xenophobia within society? And, additionally would there be such reactions if the hardship and human rights of the refugees were recognised and focused upon?