June 09, 2016
Greens threaten to block German asylum law
The German asylum law that was recently agreed by the Grand Coalition was a difficult piece of legislation. It was stuck in committee for a long time, and the coalition partners only managed to agree after marathon negotiations. One of the provisions was to shorten the time for asylum applications. Another aspect was a widening of the list of countries deemed to be safe, to include the Maghreb states.
The Greens, which are not part of the coalition, have threatened to block the legislation in the Bundesrat, the upper house. This piece of legislation requires dual approval. While the Grand Coalition has an overwhelming majority in the Bundestag, the majority in the Bundesrat is less clear-cut. the Greens are part of 10 of the 16 Länder governments, and it is customary that approval to any legislation requires the consent of all coalition partners of a state government.
The Greens argue that the law violates the German constitution. The Maghreb states persecute homosexuals, journalists, and bloggers. And some of those states use torture. The Green party in Northrhine-Westphalia is categorically opposed, but the federal government still hopes to persuade the Green PM of Baden-Wuerttemberg, whose position is that he would only accept the legislation if the constitutional concerns were addressed - which is not the case at the moment. This is one to watch.
The Greens are the only effective opposition party in Germany right now - and for once they can influence a policy outcome. If they persist, and bring down the legislation, it would constitute another setback for Angela Merkel's desperate attempts to extricate herself from her open-door immigration policies, especially now that her Turkish friends are threatening to rescind the refugee agreement unless they get visa-free travel without any further conditions.