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Europe's refugee crisis: A comparative analysis of Germany and France

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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.36322.94403

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Europe's Refugee Crisis:
A comparative Analysis of Germany and France
By Maria Muzalevskaya

Thesis prepared for


the Degree of Master of Arts, International Affairs
Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies,
Boston University

Approved: Professor Vivien Schmidt

August 22, 2016


Table of contents
Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………...2
Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………3
The European refugee crisis……………………………………………………………………….3
Literature review…………………………………………………………………………………..9
Chapter One. Refugee and Immigration policy………………………………………………16
1.1. Germany……………………………………………………………………………………..17
1.2. France......................................................................................................................................19
Chapter Two. Rise of Far Right Parties………………………………………………………22
2.1.Politics of immigration: the mainstream and the far right…………………………………...23
2.2. Germany……………………………………………………………………………………..25
2.2.1. Predecessors to modern far right parties………………………………………….........27
2.2.2. The Alternative for Germany ………………………………………………………….30
2.2.3. The Pegida movement………………………………………………………………….32
2.2.4. German U-turns as a sign of far right popularity? …………………………………….35
2.3. France………………………………………………………………………………………..37
2.3.1. Origins of the National Front…………………………………………………………..38
2.3.2. The National Front and the refugee crisis……………………………………………...42
2.4. Far right: balance the leaders’ position in shaping states’ policies?.......................................45
Chapter Three. New Identity?....................................................................................................47
3.1. Germany……………………………………………………………………………………..48
3.3.1. German ethno-cultural identity and its Turkish Muslims……………………………...48
3.2. France………………………………………………………………………………………..55
3.2.1. French Republicanism…………………………………………………………………55
3.3. Identity as a comprehensive explanation?..............................................................................61
Chapter Four. Role of Personality…………………………………………………………….62
4.1. Angela Merkel’s pragmatism………………………………………………………………..64
4.2. François Hollande’s “descente aux enfers”…………………………………………………68
4.3. German dominance?...............................................................................................................73
Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………74
Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………….78

1
Abstract

The European migration crisis has gained worldwide attention with diverse policy

positions from EU member states. Before this crisis, the EU was an example of a strong union

with relatively consolidated common positions. However, today member states have preferred to

keep their sovereignty in solving the problem of refugee distribution. As the crisis has evolved,

Angela Merkel’s active role in managing the crisis has been intensively discussed. France, in

turn, has shown cautiousness in its approach to refugee taking. This thesis examines the

continuous changes in the positions of Germany and France, and the reasons for their selected

approaches to tackling the crisis. Specifically the paper explains what role the domestic political

processes, such as far right party politics, identity and leadership play in the decision-making of

two countries. The paper argues that in this crisis Angela Merkel has been motivated by her

personal policy preferences, while Françcois Hollande has been constrained by domestic

opposition in the face of the National Front and the collapse of his own legitimacy. The issue is

developed through scholarly articles as well as international and domestic media resources,

including European, German and French political statements.

Key words: Refugee crisis, Angela Merkel, François Hollande domestic politics, far right,

leadership, national identity, Alterative for Germany, National Front, Muslims.

2
Introduction

The European refugee crisis

Beginning in 2011, an unprecedented number of people began migrating in response to the

numerous Arab uprisings, which spread chaos and instability through the Middle East.

According to the Report of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department of the European

Union Commission, an estimates 12.4 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or

persecution in 2015 only. Syria remains the world’s largest source country of refugees during

2015 with over 4.9 million people. 1 This time not only Turkey but Europe as well is facing an

upsurge of incoming migrants. So far Europe has received 1.1 million asylum applications this

year, compared to 630,000 for the whole of 2014. 2 In May the President of the European

commission Jean-Claude Juncker has said, “in former times we were working together…we

were in charge of a big piece of history. This has totally gone.” What has happened with Europe

are the signs of deep trouble. Economic growth has stagnated. European values and the identity

of member states are questioned. Unemployment rates have reached their highest levels in some

EU states. Support of far right parties is on the rise. Terrorist attacks by native-born citizens have

raised security fears all over the continent. Moreover, all this is compounded by the huge flow of

incoming asylum seekers which seems to be a burden for the future of the EU, according to

numerous recent polls. 3

In the midst of this major crisis, France and Germany have taken very different and

unexpected positions. Most surprising was that both reversed long-standing approaches to

1
“Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons - Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection - European Commission,”
July 8, 2014, http://ec.europa.eu/echo/what-we-do/humanitarian-aid/refugees-and-internally-displaced-persons_en.
2
The UNHCR, A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe, Geneva, Switzerland: UNHCR, 2013,
http://reporting.unhcr.org/node/31#_ga=1.90101784.2076822820.1469038440.
3
Harry Cooper, "Europeans Fear Refugees Threaten Jobs, Increase Terrorism: Poll," The Politico. July 12, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/europeans-pew-poll-muslims-terrorism-jobs-integration-news/.

3
immigration and refugees, with Germany standing for an open arms approach and France, in

turn, a country with a long history of immigration policy, has shown a shift in her approach to

refugee taking. France, where ten percent of the population is Muslim immigrants, having come

from its colonies after the Second World War, announced that only 30,000 refugees would be

hosted this year, while in Germany at least sixty percent of the population has supported

Merkel’s decision to take a million refugees. The position makes the German case in particular

unique in Europe, and difficult to follow for any other countries.

The main interest of the present research came from the continuous changes in the

positions of member states toward refugee resettlement, states which have preferred to be driven

by self-interest instead of cooperation. Before this crisis, the EU was the perfect example of an

organization which was built up on such cornerstones as consistency, solidarity, and friendship. 4

However, what we see today is the EU’s crisis within a crisis. The EU institutions have proven

their inefficiency in taking consolidated measures particularly in regard to equal distribution of

coming refugees. It has asked for a collective response to the crisis by means of burden sharing,

but has met resistance from many member states (Hungary, UK, Denmark and others).

The refugee crisis exacerbates an already-widespread moral panic and fear in EU member

states where economic and migration policies have already badly affected the well-being and

security of the country’s inhabitants. Migrants have become representative of disappearing jobs,

alien values, and crime. Plus, the fact that the majority of these migrants are Muslims has

aggravated the current situation with refugees. Under these pressures, EU member states have

changed their courses of actions, specifically on the question of developing a common refugee

4
European Commission. “Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.” Chapter IV (May 2008): 47-66.
The largest mass departure that Europe faced after the establishment of UNHCR was after Hungarian revolution in
1956. Member states acted in solidarity. A collective effort characterized the response to the crisis in Vietnam in the
80s. During the Yugoslavian crisis member states agreed on a compromise in the form od temporary protection.

4
policy. Therefore, the present research will analyze how selected EU member states have

responded and how their response can be explained.

In order to make the argument valid, the present research will focus on the role of domestic

political processes in the changing of positions (decision-making) of Germany and France on

refugee policy in the current migration crisis as well as the role of its leaders, Angela Merkel and

François Hollande, as legitimate head of states. Given the fact that for many years the Franco-

German relationship was decisive in the European Council, today we see how two countries have

implicitly changed their approaches under unexpected circumstances such as the refugee crisis.

While France, originally an immigrant country, has agreed to take only thirty thousands refugees,

Germany has shown an unprecedented commitment by opening the country to more than a

million refugees. Simply stated, Germany has taken the initiative, and in so doing the balance of

power has shifted from previously Franco-German dominance to only Germany today. 5

The aim of the research is not to contrast policies of the two countries, but to deepen the

reader’s understanding of refugee policy decision-making and explain the variation of domestic

and psychological factors in the changing positions of Angela Merkel and François Hollande.

In tackling the crisis, Angela Merkel has relied on her individual policy preferences, which

are mostly motivated by humanitarian concerns and her personal beliefs. Having grown up under

the communist regime, the Chancellor is familiar with the feeling of being surrounded by walls.

Thus, she acted decisively, despite facing a serious potential backlash domestically. François

Holland’s hands, in turn, were tied nationally because of domestic opposition in face of the

5
After a series of crises, including Eurozone debt, Russian aggression in Ukraine and sudden surge in migrants and
refugees it has been clear that Germany became the leader of Europe. Scholars and media started referring to
Germany as a ‘geo-economic’ power or a ‘reluctant hegemon.’
See Hans Kundrani, The Paradox of German Power (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Stephen F. Szabo,
Germany, Russia, and the Rise of Geo-Economics (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014); Simon Bulmer and William E.
Paterson, “Germany as the EU’s Reluctant Hegemon? Of Economic Strenght and Political Constraints,” Journal of
European Public Policy, vol.20, no.10, 2013, pp. 1,387-405;

5
National Front and an increasing loss of credibility among his voters. The challenges posed by

economic failure, immigration, radical Islam and an absence of bold decisions on the part of the

ruling party and its leader to address these issues has resulted in an increasingly fragmented party

system, on the one hand, and growing anxiety or indifference among French voters, on the other

hand. The European elections of May 2014 showed that the success of the National Front in

these elections was an acute illustration of the collapse of François Hollande’s legitimacy.

Therefore, Angela Merkel has been more concerned by the longer-term consequences of the

refugee crisis for the EU as a whole, while François Hollande has been more worried about the

shorter-term outcomes of the refugee flows, which might have worsened his position

domestically.

The analysis is mainly based on the exploration of such domestic factors as the cultural

identity of the state, particularly in what way it might shape the state’s interests and decision-

making; the development of far right parties and movements and their influence on the changing

position of mainstream parties and their leaders; and the personal factors in the decision-making

of Angela Merkel and François Hollande, suggesting that at some point decision-making might

be the result of individual political leadership.

The research is structured as follows. I start out by presenting the theoretical background of

the refugee policies of both countries in the past in order to show the shift in the policies today.

This leads us to the understanding that member states set their own migration positions,

particularly in the refugee question and do not have enough of a common legal framework to

cooperate on a mutual basis. The next three chapters will focus on understanding why Germany

pursues a pro-immigrant stance and accomplishes moral obligations towards refugees, while

6
France although it does not refuse to deal with the situation, takes a much smaller number of

refugees.

For the purposes of this paper, I analyze some of the domestic factors that might have

influenced the position of the leaders. One of the sections looks at such domestic factors as the

development of far right parties in time in both countries. Under far right parties the present

paper will use the definition of Cas Mudde, who identified five key features of the far right:

nationalism, racism, xenophobia, anti-democracy and the belief in a strong state. 6 The

subsequent section will focus on such far right parties and movements as Alternative for

Germany (AfD) and the Pegida movement in Germany and the National Front (FN) in France.

This leads me to say that the success of individual parties and the extent to which they shape the

mainstream politics differ in both countries.

Another section explores the cultural identity of the state, which I define in terms of its

internal aspects, following a constructivist approach which assumes that all interests come from

identities. 7 Aside from individual characteristics and psychology, governmental politics, and

structure, it is often assumed that individuals must be affected to some degree by the differences

in their societies, their historical experiences, value systems and language structures. 8 Especially

in the situation of identity change, when old identities are abandoned and new ones are chosen

and embraced, the analysis in this section will be informed by the constructivists in order to

understand whether certain values become the basis for a certain policymaking. Since

constructivist concepts of culture, identity, ideas, discourse, and roles have been used to explain

6
Cas Mudde, "Right-Wing Extremism Analyzed: A Comparative Analysis of the Ideologies of Three Alleged
Right-Wing Extremist Parties (NPD, NDP, CP’86)", European Journal of Political Research, 27/2, (1995): 206.
7
Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999),
231.
8
Valerie M. Hudson, "Culture and Foreign Policy: Developing a Research Agenda," In Culture and Foreign Policy,
(Lynne Rienner, 1997):1-26.

7
why positions of some states defy realist and liberal expectations, national identity needs to be

understood as existing in parallel with the values or interests of the state. As for identity, this

paper develops Wendt’s understanding on international politics by emphasizing that international

politics are socially constructed. Material forces matter but not as much as identities and interests

that are constructed through human association. 9 Since constructivists also often assume a

strong connection between culture at the mass-societal level and policymaking at the elite level,

this paper tries to see how multiple identities of citizens and migrants are aggregated and

whether societal identities influence elites and states’ policy preferences. 10 Particularly, the

chapter will include a comprehensive analysis of the interaction of German and French identities

with the cultural identities of newcomers. It will help the reader to understand that on the one

hand, different cultures and values are vital for the articulation of the interests and policies of the

state; on the other hand, it is not the sole issue in the decision-making of the leader.

The third chapter brings in the role of personality in the decision-making process,

particularly during the current crisis. This part shows that amid all possible factors, which might

have shaped the leader’s decision-making domestically and internationally, the role of

personality, personal beliefs and past political history all matter significantly in the decision-

making.

Although the research gives a deep analysis of the three factors mentioned above, it does

not necessarily mean that there are no additional factors that help explain what caused Germany

and France to distance themselves from their previous policies toward refugees. The present

paper does not take into account such factors as the role of leaders’ advisors, institutions, lobby

9
Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics," International
Organization Int. Org. 46.02 (Spring, 1992): 394.
10
John S. Duffield, "Political Culture and State Behavior: Why Germany Confounds Neorealism," International
Organization Int Org 53, no. 04 (1999): 765-803.

8
groups, and many other aspects. Moreover, the generalizability of the results is limited due to the

limited number of case studies analyzed in the research. Another limitation is that the crisis is

ongoing and the present research does not claim any final truths for its results because it is still

too early to know which events are important and which are inconsequential. Finally, the present

research does not take into account the reaction of Germany and France to the recent terror

attacks in Europe.

Literature review

While many theories on state behavior in international relations (IR) are contested, it is

usually inappropriate to see them as competing theories. Instead, each is based on certain

assumptions and constrained within certain conditions. While various theories may lead to more

compelling conclusions, none is definitely wrong or right. Rather, each might be applied in

examining and analyzing domestic and external factors and their influence on a state’s behavior.

There are different explanations for the causal mechanisms of a changing state’s external

behavior in international relations. The most widely used conception was introduced by Kenneth

Waltz, consisting of three levels of analysis: international-level explanations, which look to a

state’s position in the international system; domestic-level explanations, which focus on the

domestic factors such as society, culture, and political institutions of individual nation-states; and

individual-level explanations, which look to the personal or psychological characteristics of

individual statesmen. 11 Taking into account the fact that the international approach focuses more

on the role of powers in IR instead of domestic constraints, the present research will apply

domestic and individual-level explanations.

11
Kenneth N. Waltz, Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis. (New York: Columbia University Press,
1959).

9
Generalizing a theoretical framework of the causal factors of a state’s decision-making

internationally, it is important to note that all sophisticated IR theories consequently ended up

conceding that domestic factors are indispensible participants in foreign policy-making. And

here neither realism nor institutionalism plays as important a role as liberal and constructivist

hypotheses, which highlight domestic and social conditions as an increasingly central factor in a

state’s behavior in international relations. In contrast to realism and institutionalism, where all

states have the same goals and behaviors, self-interested actors pursuing wealth or survival, the

basic insight of liberalism is that individual states have unique behaviors in international

relations. 12 This theory helps to understand variations in changing positions of a state’s behavior

internationally. However, it does not focus on the role of the social aspects in a state’s decision-

making to the same degree as constructivists.

In order to understand the key components of a state’s behavior in liberal theory, one must

consider Andrew Moravcsik’s piece on liberalism, which gives an explicit analysis of the

variants of liberal theory. In his view States are not simply ‘black boxes’ seeking to survive and

prosper in an anarchic system. They are configurations of individual and group interests, where

ideological beliefs may also be important.

Specifically he distinguishes three type of liberalism: ideational, commercial, and

republican. Each stresses a specific element of liberal theory: social demands (state preferences),

including variation of social preferences on national unity, legitimate political institutions, and

12
John Gerard Ruggie, “International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar
Economic Order,” International Organization 36, no. 02 (March 1982): 520.

10
socio-economic regulation; incentives for transborder economic transactions; and the nature of

domestic representation. 13

Overall, as Andrew Moravcsik highlights, liberal theory remains a comprehensive

alternative to realism and institutionalism, as well as to constructivism. Firstly, neither realism

nor institutionalism explain the changing substantive goals and purposes over which states

conflict and cooperate. Secondly, liberal theory offers an explanation for historical change in the

international system, whereas scholars like Waltz, Giplin, and others focus on the static patterns

of state behavior or repeating cycles of the rise and decline of great powers. 14 Therefore, liberal

theorists stress the importance of three variants as national self-determination and social

citizenship, which will be touched upon in the present research, the development of economic

integration, and liberal democratic governance. 15 Finally, it explains the complexity of states’

interdependence in modern times, whereas realism and constructivism do not give a solid

explanation of the emergence of pacific, interdependent states and unions, for example like the

European Union.

Constructivism, although not yet formulated as a theory, shares some societal-level

normative and ideational forces with liberalism. 16 However, in contrast to liberalism,

constructivists often assume a strong connection between culture at the societal level and

policymaking at the elite level. On the one hand constructivist research on identities concludes

that there is a single national identity that is shared between elites and the masses. 17 On the other

13
Andrew Moravcsik, “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics,” International
Organization 51, no. 4 (October 1, 1997): 524.
14
Ibid,, 535.
15
Ibid., 535.
16
Juliet Kaarbo, “A Foreign Policy Analysis Perspective on the Domestic Politics Turn in IR Theory,” International
Studies Review 17, no. 2 (March 17, 2015): 199.
17
Ibid., 202.

11
hand, some constructivists claim a disconnection between the elite and masses but see cultural

values and identities developing at the societal level and shaping elites decision-making. 18

Constructivists explain the importance of the relationship between culture and a state’s behavior

based on four general pathways. First, culture helps to define the basic goals of collectivity.

Many interests “depend on a particular construction of self-identity in relation to the conceived

identity of others.” 19 Culture may do much to determine the general policy objectives that are to

be pursued. 20 Secondly, culture shapes perception of the external environment. It conditions the

range of issues to which attention is devoted by influencing what people notice. 21 Moreover,

culture shapes the identification of the behaviors available for advancing the state’s interests in a

particular context. Finally, culture influences the evaluation process of the available options and

thus the choices that are made among them. 22

According to the constructivist approach, the interests of states are shaped by their

identities, while state identities, as well as interests, are subject to change in the process of

interaction. State behavior is generally seen as a part of culture, which most constructivists

define as socially shared beliefs. Overall, constructivists acknowledge that norms, culture,

environment, and behavior are changing factors of a state’s decision-making.

One of the weaknesses of the constructivist approach is that culture and identity are not

deterministic. In addition, there are still few empirical studies done on identity construction, and

18
Thomas U. Berger, Cultures of Antimilitarism: National Security in Germany and Japan (United States: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1998).
19
Peter J Katzenstein, The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1996);
Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
20
Sidney Verba, "Conclusion: Comparative Political Culture," in Political Culture and Political Development
(Princeton University Press, 1965), 517; Yitzhak Klein, “A Theory of Strategic Culture,” Comparative Strategy 10,
no. 1 (January 1991).
21
Verba 1965, 513; Katzenstein 1996.
22
Judith Goldstein and Robert O. Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions, and Political
Change (Baltimore, MD, United States: Cornell University Press, 1993).

12
how multiple identities are combined and how they influence elites and foreign policy choices. 23

The most frequent and serious criticism concerns the difficulty of defining and measuring

cultural variables. 24 For example, foreign policy analysis, which examines how domestic

political and decision-making factors affect actors’ choices and policies, stresses the complexity

of relationship between public opinion and values and elite decision-making. Foreign policy

analysis argues that elites and masses may disagree on their country’s identity. According to

Risse et al., elite and mass attitudes toward the Euro differed over a long period, partly due to

different conceptions of German identity. 25 Rathbun, for example, argues that the Christian

Democratic Party in Germany used peacekeeping policies on purpose to “habituate” the public to

acceptance of German participation in military interventions, which goes against a constructivist

interpretation of a passive, antimilitaristic culture that shaped German foreign policy. Media and

framing influences on opinion also challenge the notion that mass views are a stable and

independent source of a state’s decision-making. Overall, research on the influence of public

opinion on state decision-making has turned toward analysis of other factors that affect this

relationship. For example, Foyle states that leaders’ beliefs about the necessity of considering

public opinion affect the role that the public will play in state decision-making. 26

Overall a focus on the social context in which IR occurs leads constructivists to emphasize

issues of identity as well as culture. At that point it helps to understand that States are not only

self-interested and rational actors, pursuing survival, power, or wealth, but also that their

decision-making might be complicated by varying identities and beliefs within the country. On

23
Ted Hopf, Social Construction of International Politics: Identities and Foreign Policies, Moscow, 1955 and
1999 (United States: Cornell University Press, 2002).
24
Lucian W. Pye, "Culture and Political Science: Problems in the Evaluation of the Concept of Political Culture,"
ed. Charles M. Bonjean, in The Idea of Culture in the Social Sciences, ed. Louis Schneider (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1973), 65-76.
25
Juliet Kaarbo, “A Foreign Policy Analysis Perspective on the Domestic Politics Turn in IR Theory,” International
Studies Review 17, no. 2 (March 17, 2015): 202.
26
Ibid., 198.

13
the one hand, the behavior of Germany and France in the current refugee crisis might be

explained through a constructivist’s approach. On the other hand, the issue of identity and culture

does not cover such aspects of domestic policy as the role of political parties and leadership in

state decision-making. Yet this is elucidated by neoclassical realism, which stresses the role of a

wide range of domestic political and decision-making factors such as political traditions and

identities, domestic institutions and coalition building or states’ perceptions of past experience.

Some neoclassical realists focus on domestic policy and state-society relations. 27 Others place

greater stress on such factors as nationalism and ideology. 28 Finally, there are some among

neoclassical realists who focus on the role of human beings, political leaders, and elites in

foreign policy decision-making. 29

Although the effects of personality on decision-making are difficult to quantify, for the

purpose of this research we cannot afford to ignore individual differences between the leaders

themselves in decision-making during the refugee crisis. As political scientist James Barber

remarked, “ Every story of a decision-making is really two stories: an outer one in which a

rational man calculates and an inner one in which an emotional man feels. The two are forever

connected.” 30 The role of personality in state decision-making is the result of cognitive

processes, background, personal characteristics, motives, and beliefs. 31 It was social

psychologists and personality theorists, rather than political scientists, who demonstrated the

27
Colin Dueck, "Neoclassical Realism and the National Interest: Presidents, Domestic Politics, and Major Military
Interventions," ed. Norrin Ripsman and Jeffrey Taliaferro, in Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy,
ed. Steven Lobell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 139-169.
28
Jennifer Sterling-Folker, "Neoclassical Realism and Identity: Peril Despite Profit across Taiwan Strait," ed. Norrin
Ripsman and Jeffrey Taliaferro, in Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy, ed. Steven Lobell
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 99-138.
29
Anders Wivel, “Explaining Why State X Made a Certain Move Last Tuesday: The Promise and Limitations of
Realist Foreign Policy Analysis,” Journal of International Relations and Development 8, no. S4 (November 30,
2005): 361.
30
Cited in Robert S. Hirschfield, The power of the presidency, (New York: Aldine Transaction, 1982), 371.
31
Sprout, Harold, and Margaret Sprout, Man-Milieu Relationship Hypothesis in the Context of International
Politics. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956).

14
psychological dimensions of international relations. 32 The first attempt took the form of

psychobiography and psychohistory, which tried to explain behavior in terms of early childhood

experiences or development crisis in adulthood. 33 By the 1950s and 1960s social psychologists

put at the core of decision-making analysis individual needs and motivations of the leaders.

Alexander George focused on the content of individual belief systems in his study of the

“operational codes” of political leaders. He argued that an individual’s beliefs are

interdependent, consistent, hierarchically organized, and resistant to change. The cornerstones of

belief systems are philosophical beliefs about the nature of politics and conflict. 34 By the late

1960s scholars began analyzing crisis decision-making. They particularly focused on the impact

of stress caused by high risks, limited decision time, and surprise associated with international

crises. 35 For example, Robert Jervis’ study applied a “cognitive paradigm” to the analysis of

leader decision-making. He concludes that an individual’s cognitive predispositions or mindsets

play an important role in shaping his/her perceptions of reality. It leads to selective attention to

information for people to see what they expect to see based on prior beliefs. 36 His discussion on

the role of emotion or motivation in decision-making led to the notion of “motivated biases.”

Motivated biases are driven by people’s emotional needs, by their need to maintain self-esteem,

and by their interests. Such behavior is most likely to happen in decisions involving high risks.

32
Ross Stagner, “Some Factors Related to Attitude Toward War, 1938,” The Journal of Social Psychology 16, no. 1
(August 1942).
33
Peter Loewenberg, Decoding the Past: The Psychohistorical Approach (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1992).
34
Alexander L. George, “The ‘operational code’: A Neglected Approach to the Study of Political Leaders and
Decision-Making,” International Studies Quarterly 13, no. 2 (June 1969).
35
Charles Frazer Hermann, International Crises: Insights from behavioral research (New York: Free Press, 1972).
36
Robert Jervis, Perception and misperception in international politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1976).

15
The resulting stress from threats to basic values often leads decision-makers to deny those threats

or the need to make tradeoffs between values. 37

One of the weaknesses of this approach is that when analyzing the influence of personality

upon foreign policy, it is important to note that the different political environments surrounding

leaders might limit their freedom to take a certain decision. In democracy “personality factors

merge with cultural background factors and can often be explained in more generalizable group

terms.” 38 Therefore in the selected democratic countries of the present research, political leaders

in decision-making theoretically should reflect the attitudes of their citizens and cultural identity

of their country. Although this approach helps to understand the role of personality in state

decision-making, it dismisses the role of other constraining domestic factors, which will be

touched upon in the present research.

Given all strengths and weaknesses of various theoretical approaches to the understanding

of causal factors of state decision-making in international relations, present research will be

based on multidimensional investigations by analyzing in what way domestic factors as well as

the role of personality might or might not affect state position in the non-routine situation of

refugee crisis.

CHAPTER ONE. Refugee and immigration policy

Long before today, Europe became the destination of immigrants, including asylum

seekers and refugees because of its economic prosperity, security, respect for human rights, and

relative distance from conflict zones. Given the fact that the EU as a member of the international

community agreed to follow universally accepted rules and definitions for asylum seekers,

37
Ole R. Holsti, "The Effects of Stress on the Performance of Foreign Policy-makers," in Political Science Annual,
ed. Cornelius P. Cotter (Indianopolis: BobbsMerrill, 1975), 235-319.
38 Philip G Cerny, The Politics of Grandeur: Ideological Aspects of de Gaulle’s Foreign Policy (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 2008), 13.

16
common migration policy including migrants’ integration and refugee resettlement still have not

been generated at the subnational level. This chapter helps us understand the difference in

approach between Germany and France to migrants, including refugees and the shift in the way

they reacted to the flow of refugees in fall 2015. For the purpose of this research, it is important

to provide information about member states relationship to refugees at the legislative level in the

past in order to follow the sudden changes within cultures of cooperation and friendship in

Europe.

Germany

To follow Germany’s refugee policy evolution, it is important to note that until late in the

20th century, Germany lacked a national strategy of integration. Germany’s current Immigration

Act only came into force in January 2005. The Act defines integration courses that consist of a

German language and an orientation course on the German legal system, history, society and

culture. Only if an immigrant meets the requirements does he/she have a right to ask for

residency as well as social and welfare benefits. 39

Immigration in Germany is mainly the result of an employment policy. “We are not a

country of immigration,” proclaimed the authorities in Germany. 40 Until recently, Germany has

not admitted its status as an immigrant country. There were four main sources of post-war

migration to Germany. First, Aussiedler migration, which took place between 1945 and 1955,

included mostly refugees who were persecuted in Soviet bloc countries. The second source was

the Gastarbeiter program, which recruited mainly ‘guest workers.’ The third major source of

post-war movement to Germany was by the family members of guest workers. 41 And the last

39
The UNHCR, A New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Europe (Geneva, Switzerland: UNHCR, 2013): 47.
40
Riva Kastoryano, Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany, Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2002.
41
Andrew Geddes, The politics of Migration and Immigration in Europe (London:SAGE publications, 2003): 79.

17
main source was asylum seekers who could get a refugee status in Germany under the Basic

Law, Article 16, which states “Persons persecuted on political grounds shall enjoy the right of

asylum.” Even if an application was rejected, a victim had the right to stay and challenge this

decision before the courts. Such generous and internationally exceptional legislation was

explained by the fact that West Germany had turned too many Germans and Europeans into

refugees during the Nazi regime and now it could at least admit its “ugly” past. However, in

1993 the newly unified Germany amended Article 16 of the Basic Law, restricting severely the

right to political asylum. 42 The new Article 16 begins with same wording as the old article, but is

extended by a long list of speculations and restrictions. 43 A key change was the introduction of a

safe third country rule, meaning anyone who enters the country via a member state of the EU or

another state which has been qualified as safe is denied access to the asylum procedure. 44 This

amendment to the Basic Law was implemented because of the development of a massive

immigration from Central Europe and from former East German citizens into West Germany in

1990. Moreover, the rate of violent attacks against foreigners was at a high level.

Restrictive policy toward refugees and exclusion from access to asylum continued to be at

the forefront of political discourse during the 90s. In 1992, the government introduced a special

procedure at the airports, in which applicants without valid travel documents were detained in

‘international zones.’ Such new laws met criticism from political elites in Germany, because it

made getting access to the right of asylum impossible without entering illegally. In 1993, the

state continued to intensify the restrictive policy, thus adopting the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits

42
Alice Bloch, Refugees, Citizenship, and Social Policy in Europe (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire:
Macmillan Press, 1999).
43
Wolfgang Bosswick, "Development of Asylum Policy in Germany," Journal of Refugee Studies 13, no.1 (2000):
50.
44 Alice Bloch, Refugees, Citizenship, and Social Policy in Europe (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire:

Macmillan Press, 1999), 86.

18
Act, which separated welfare provisions for asylum seekers from general welfare, therefore

regularly providing most benefits in kind on a minimum level only. 45 Overall, the restriction

policy and implementation of the ‘safe third country’ rule, made access to asylum very restricted

even for genuine refugees.

Today, the current crisis shows how Germany completely reversed such policies by calling

Member States for European solidarity to share the burden equally. Indeed, Angela Merkel took

an unprecedented decision to resettle a million refugees in Germany in 2016.

France

France has a long tradition of positively encouraging immigration because of the concerns
46
dating back especially to the post-War time about low levels of population growth. In contrast

to Germany, France has its immigration roots dating back to colonialism. By the 1980s, twenty

five percent of people living in France were either immigrants or had at least one immigrant

relative.

Regarding French refugee policy, the ‘right of asylum’ was the fundamental principle of

republicanism. Particularly, during the French Revolution the defense of refugee rights was

centered on the evocation of ideals of natural rights, and the right of asylum was considered to be

indispensable right to the individual, derived from nature. 47 The recognition of the legal rights of

refugees in France was assured by the adoption in French law of the UN’s convention relating to

refugees. This became implemented on July 25th, 1952 with the passage of the ‘Law Relating to

the Right of Asylum’ (Loi relative au droit d’asile). 48 The law constituted the French office for

45 Wolfgang Bosswick, "Development of Asylum Policy in Germany," Journal of Refugee Studies 13, no.1 (2000):

52.
46 Andrew Geddes, The politics of Migration and Immigration in Europe (London:SAGE publications, 2003): 52.
47
Greg Burgess, Refuge in the Land of Liberty: France and Its Refugees, from the Revolution to the End of Asylum,
1787-1939 (Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008): 216.
48
Ibid., 213.

19
the Protection of Refugees and the Stateless (Office Francais de Protection des Refugies et

Apatrides- OFPRA), which determined whether the application of an individual for refugee

status met with the conditions of the convention. If OFPRA denied the claim, the alien had one

month to appeal to the Commission des recours des refugies. Under certain conditions, an alien

might appeal a decision of the Commission des recours to the Conseil d’Etat.

The fact that a reference to asylum seekers is a part of the French constitution reflects the

reputation of France as liberal and generous country of asylum. Especially during the early 70s,

France became a desirable country of resettlement for aliens fleeing persecution. First of all, an

alien who applied for asylum had a right to a temporary residence card and permission work.

Applicants unable to find work were entitled to unemployment benefits. They were also eligible

for housing allocations, medical care, and other benefits subsidized by the French government

through private organizations. 49 Indeed, as France made no serious effort to deport aliens whose

claims were eventually denied, a claim for asylum effectively led to permanent residence.

Unsuccessful applicants might be sent a letter by the state informing them that they had a certain

period of time to leave, but no effort was made to deport the aliens.

Starting in the late 80s, while the country was already overwhelmed with a large

population of third-world guest worker immigrants from the African continent, France began to

face an asylum crisis. The new refugee policy was being applied discreetly to avoid accusations

that France was abandoning its traditional defense of human rights around the world. During that

period it tightened controls on those asserting persecution at home, not only with a view to

deporting those staying illegally after being refused asylum but also in the hope of signaling to

prospective travelers that France is no longer an open door. Furthermore France announced it

49
Alexander Aleinikoff, “Political asylum in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of France: Lessons
for the US,” Journal of Law Reform, (Winter 1984): 214.

20
would no longer grant political-refugee status to citizens from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and

Hungary explaining that democracy had returned to those countries. In the 1990s, asylum

restrictions and a trend toward lower recognition rates led to a decrease in the number of

applicants. The Refugee Office notes that having jumped from 34,400 in 1988 to 61,500 in 1989,

the number of new applicants for asylum fell slightly in 1990. 50 However, at the end of the

1990s the number of applications for asylum rose again. Since 1997, France has had a second

asylum status, the so-called territorial asylum. This status, which provides significantly fewer

rights, was originally created for refugees from the Algerian civil war but later was supposed to

be offered to all nationalities. The conservative government under Prime Minister Jean-Peirre

Raffarin reformed the asylum law once again in 2003. Eventually, processing times for asylum

applications were shortened, a new definition of the term refugee was introduced, and the

structure of the authorities was reorganized. 51

In May 2015, the government rejected the European Commission proposal to resettle

40,000 asylum seekers. At that time, it considered that the country had already taken on more

than its share of the burden. 52 However, since the crisis has further developed, François Holland

has decided to host only 30,000 refugees, which is much fewer than Germany. Soon after, it

sparked anti-immigrant reaction among the French. For example, according to the Human Rights

Watch Report, asylum seekers and migrants living in destitution in the port city of Calais

experience harassment and abuse at the hands of French police. Moreover, currently only a third

50
Alan Riding, “France Imposes a Tighter Political Refugee policy,” The New York Times, February 14, 1991
http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/14/world/france-imposes-a-tighter-political-refugee-policy.html.
51
Kimberly Hamilton, Patrick Simon and Clara Veniard, “The Challenge of French Diversity,” Migration Policy
Institute, November 1, 2014, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/challenge-french-diversity.
52
Matthieu Tardis, “We have enough to deal with at home! France and the refugee crisis,” Heinrich Boll Stiftung
The Green Political Foundation, June 16, 2016, https://www.boell.de/en/2016/06/15/we-have-enough-deal-home-
france-and-refugee-crisis.

21
of those who seek asylum across France are provided with accommodation in reception

centers. 53

Overall, for France, the refugee issue remains highly delicate. In contrast to Germany in

the past, which enacted measures that streamlined the adjudication process by bringing more

judges into the process and restricting appeals, France has hardly changed its adjudication

process and has done little to deter the filing claims. 54 However today we see how France is

cautious towards the refugee crisis. The problem that lies ahead for France is how to structure

and implement policies that reduce the number of unreasonable claims without abandoning the

nation’s historical commitment to helping refugees.

CHAPTER TWO. Rise of Far Right Parties

Media discussions have been recently overwhelmed with reports about the rising support

for far right parties across Europe. Yet the alarmist reporting often does not have enough much-

needed historical analysis to explain the influence of far right rhetoric on the changing politics of

mainstream parties. Taking into account the fact that the current refugee crisis has intensified the

rise of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric in many European countries, it would be more

relevant to say that Europe as a whole was not attacked by “a far right earthquake,” as many

journalists claim today. 55 It is true that there is a changing dynamic in electorates’ support but, as

has been the case since the emergence of the so-called “third wave” of far right parties in the

early 1980s, the success of individual parties and their influence on politics has differed

53
The Human Rights Watch Report, “France: Migrants, Asylum Seekers Abused and Destitute,” January 20, 2015,
https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/20/france-migrants-asylum-seekers-abused-and-destitute.

54
Alexander Aleinikoff, “Political asylum in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of France: Lessons
for the US,” Journal of Law Reform, (Winter 1984): 214.
55
Cas Mudde, “The Far Right in the 2014 European Elections: Of Earthquakes, Cartels and Designer
Fascists,” Washington Post (Washington Post), May 30, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-
cage/wp/2014/05/30/the-far-right-in-the-2014-european-elections-of-earthquakes-cartels-and-designer-fascists/.

22
significantly across the continent. In that sense, there is a lot of controversy among political

scientists regarding an understanding of what effect far right parties have had on politics of the

mainstream parties specifically regarding the migration question.

Historically, in Germany and France the agendas and positions of the mainstream parties

toward migration and refugee policies have mixed relationships with the far right parties. Given

the fact that some of the possible ways of responding to populist far right parties is to exclude

them, defuse their message, to some extent adopt their rhetoric and policies, or engage more with

voters at a local level, it is important to understand to what extent the political establishments of

two states in particular use one of these counter methods today and in what way it shapes their

mainstream positions. 56

Politics of Immigration: the Mainstream and the Far Right

The mainstream right apparently puts immigration issues in electoral competition, because

its anti-immigrant stance corresponds to the views of the average voter. In this context, it allows

mainstream right parties to put immigration, nationalism, and xenophobia on their political

agendas in order to compete with the mainstream left. 57 The situation changes when radical right

parties are present in the electoral arena. However, in contrast to the left, mainstream right

parties can still play the immigration card. According to Bale, the mainstream and far right

parties are in fact better off than the left. They often form a coalition together. Sometimes the

mainstream right finds itself in a difficult situation between political moderation and balancing

of interests of the center and center-right, and the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the far right. 58

56
Robin Wilson, Paul Hainsworth, «Far-Right Parties and discourse in Europe: A challenge for our times,» The
European Network against Racism, March, 2002, p. 19.
57
Tim Bale, “"Cinderella and Her Ugly Sisters: The Mainstream and Extreme Right in Europe's Bipolarising Party
Systems." West European Politics 26, no. 3 (2003): 67.
58
Ibid., 70.

23
The mainstream left parties find themselves in a more complicated situation. These parties

have to deal with the mixed preferences of its electorate. On the one hand, part of their electorate

is voters with high income, education, and liberal socio-cultural values. On the other hand,

another part of the electorate is working-class voters who usually feel threatened in terms of

economic benefits, which decrease with the growing numbers of immigrants. 59 In this context,

taking into account variety in electorate preferences and immigration growing more relevant on

the public agenda, in the face of rising support of the far right, Socialists and Social Democrats

find themselves in a difficult situation. The left should find what kind of voters it will rely on,

particularly when immigration become a burdensome issue on the agenda. Some theories argue

that if the right emphasizes immigration issues critically, the mainstream left will shape a

position which is close to the average vote, then it will converge with the right. 60 Based on the

theories of electoral competition, the left will prefer to rely on its own issues instead of focusing

on immigration. 61

Given the main features of the far right party's agenda on immigration, the mainstream

parties often give more preference to immigration in their political agendas and shape their

positions towards the far right, especially when there is a growing support for these anti-

immigrant parties. Some authors argue that mainstream left parties could win if they give more

relevance to the socio-cultural dimension and lean towards the right. 62 For example, previous

researches show that the mainstream left employed this strategy by using the anti-immigrant

59
Green-Pederson, Christopher and Jesper Krogstrup, “ Immigration as a Political Issue in Denmark and
Sweden,” European Journal of Political Research 47, no. 5 (August 2008): 47;
Sofia Perez y Jose Fernandez Albertos, “Immigration and Left Party Government in Europe,” Paper prepared for the
APSA Annual Meeting, Toronto, September, 2009.
60
Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy (New York: Harper and Row, 1957).
61
Ian Budge and Denis Farlie, “Party competition: Selective Emphasis or Direct Confrontation? An Alternative
View with Data,” in Hans Daalder and Peter Mair, Western European Party Systems, London: Sage.
62
Van der Brug, Wouter and J. Van Spanje, «Immigration, Europe and the «New» Cultural cleavage,» European
Journal of Political Research, (2009): 48.

24
rhetoric of the far right parties in order to steal voters from the right. 63 The mainstream Left also

has an option to take an “adversarial strategy” and defend pro-immigrant positions and, thus, to

prevent the loss of its electorate. 64 However, it will hardly have a long lasting effect. Instead it

will bring costs for the mainstream left.

Alonso and Claro da Fonseca show in their research that the overall anti-immigrant or pro-

immigrant trends of the left and right parties with or without presence of the far right might take

place differently across Europe. For example, in 1986 in Germany the anti-immigrant turn of the

mainstream left and right happened after the electoral success of Die Republikaner in the

Bavarian state elections, in some other countries without electorally relevant far right parties, the

mainstream left experienced an anti-immigrant turn. According to the scholars’ argument, the

anti-immigrant turn of the mainstream parties can be interpreted in three ways: convergence with

the main competitor, congruence and divergence or polarization. In short, if a country has a

relevant far right party with an increasingly welfare chauvinist agenda, the mainstream left party

in this country is likely to become more vocal and more critical about immigration. In such

countries as Germany and Austria, Socialist and Christian Democrats show a congruent

development, which means that the polarization of mainstream party positions on the

immigration scale may facilitate the emergence of the far right. 65

Germany

In the recent local elections, although Merkel’s center-right CDU party suffered vote-share

losses in three states, it remained the largest party in Saxony-Anhait. Meanwhile, a far right wing

party AfD has made stunning gains in three regional elections.

63
David Art, "Reacting to the Radical Right: Lessons from Germany and Austria." Party Politics 13, no. 3 (May
2007): 340.
64
Bonnie Meguid, Party competition between unequals, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
65
Sonia Alonso and Saro Claro da Fonseca, “Immigration, left and right,” Party Politics 18, no. 6 (May, 2011): 880.

25
Compared to France, the radical right parties have developed differently in the German

political establishment. There are several dynamics that have prevented the radical right from

becoming a sustained electoral force. First, the mainstream parties have preempted the far right’s

main issues of German unification and immigration. Second, the political culture of postwar

Germany makes it difficult for voters to support any party that has connections to neo-Nazism.

Third, the far right parties have followed ineffective strategies and suffered from organizational

weakness. 66

The German political establishment is characterized by its stability and decentralized

character. Germany contains sixteen federal regions, or Lander. The upper house, or Bundesrat,

represents the concerns of the Lander. Its members are appointed by each Land government. The

number of members of the lower house, the Bundestag, is at least twice the number of electoral

districts in the country. Each voter casts a ‘first vote’ for a particular candidate, and a ‘second

vote’ for a party. Half the members are elected through proportional representation, the other half

are elected in single member districts. Because a party must either receive five percent of the

national vote or a seat in at least three electoral districts to be gain a seat in the Bundestag, small

parties face a difficult barrier. 67 Regarding far right parties, generally speaking they have played

a role only at the subnational level and have frequently competed with each other. Indeed, new

parties that succeed in regional elections do not necessarily repeat their results at the national

level. Thus, many far right parties hardly manage to arrange electoral campaigns in all states.

Due to Germany’s history of the ‘Third Reich,’ all parties on the political far right are

automatically stigmatized as heirs of Nazism. This has consequences for their media image and

66
Roger Karapin, "Far-Right Parties and the Construction of Immigration Issues in Germany." In Shadows over
Europe: The Development and Impact of the Extreme Right in Western Europe (Palgrave MaCmillan, 2002), 187.
67
Martin Schain, Aritide Zolberg, and Patrick Hossay, Shadows over Europe: The Development and Impact of the
Extreme Right in Western Europe, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002), 329.

26
coverage. They in turn respond to this stigma by provocation through using offensive language

that originates form National Socialism. Thus strong state control and development of anti-

fascist organizations also help to prevent far right parties from being represented in the

parliament. 68

Finally, ineffective structure and organizational weakness impose limits on far right

parties’ attempts to gain seats in the Bundestag. As long as a party has a charismatic and strong

leader, who is able to prevent the party from having internal tensions, a party has a chance to

exist. Once, the leader disappears, a party will probably start collapsing. Older parties such as the

National Front in France, manage to adapt to the loss of their leader and to a find a replacement.

Overall, what might promote success of far right parties in other countries prevents them from

being treated equally in Germany’s political discourse. In other words, until now, in Germany

right-wing radicalism has been absorbed by other parties.

Predecessors to Modern Far Right Parties

To understand the radical right in contemporary Germany and its possible influence on

policy of the mainstream party, first it is important to analyze the development of far right parties

such as National Democratic Party (NPD), Republikaner (REP), and German People’s Union

(DVU) through time. David Art highlights that one of the causes of failure of this party was the

tension between its middle-aged leadership and youths. The interests of the NPD party elite were

often at odds with those of the new recruits. The second explanation is that of state control. In

contrast to France, the German state has a right to ban radical extremist parties and

organizations, and bar civil servants from joining them. Plus the state actively tries to convert

members of far right parties and organizations. Overall, there is a clear distinction between

68
Nicole Berbuir, Marcel Lewandowsky, and Jasmin Siri, "The AfD and Its Sympathisers: Finally a Right-Wing
Populist Movement in Germany?" German Politics 24, no. 2 (January 2015): 160.

27
extremist groups and mainstream politics in Germany. The third dynamic is the presence of

strong antifascist groups against the NDP and other radical right groups. The broader social

reaction of German politics and society has dramatically restricted these parties’ recruitment

base. 69 By describing the development of NPD, Art points out that in the post-war era, the

German state adopted a carrot (integration) and stick (repression) approach that succeeded in

exacerbating internal conflicts within far right parties. Moreover, economic growth in Germany

led to dramatic increases in the standard of living, which limited the number of voters of far right

parties as well.

At the time of German reunification, the rise of the far right Republikaner (REP) party was

one of the most important political moments. Like other radical right parties elsewhere during

the 1980s, the REP developed into an anti-immigrant and welfare chauvinist party. However,

from the beginning, the party started overcoming long lasting internal chaos, including the battle

between extremists and moderate members. As in case of NPD’s failure the state also played an

important role in raising the costs of membership in radical right organizations. In 1972, the

West German government of Willy Brandt passed the Decree Against Radicals, which forbade

people with radical views to hold positions in the German civil service. 70 Some members of

REP left the party for the sake of their careers.

After the collapse of REP, the German far right has been dominated by two parties: the

German People’s Union (DVU) and a renewed NPD. However, DVU has gradually lost the

support of its voters, which eventually led to its internal breakdown and defeat. The renewed

NPD in turn adopted a new anticapitalist rhetoric with its focus on socioeconomic problems. By

shaping a core ideology, the party moderated extremist rhetoric and got a more respectable

69 David Art, Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe (New York:

Cambridge University Press, 2011), 192.


70
Ibid., 202.

28
image among the electorate. So the combination of social legitimacy and violence has worked.

In contrast to DVU, the NPD has networks in many eastern German towns. The Zeit, German

newspaper wrote, “ right-wing extremism in the east is not a phenomenon of marginal groups. It

is not a sub-culture, but rather dominates the youth scene in many small cities and towns. Racism

and anti-Semitism are in fashion.” 71 In general, the collapse of East Germany and with it the

destruction of values and authorities posed a particular challenge for the people in East Germany,

above all for youths searching for identity. 72 Many Germans, especially those who lived in

former Eastern Germany, did not profit from the opportunities of the unified Germany. Most of

them are uneducated and unemployable people, who feel insecure about their future and at the

same time are suffering significant economic losses. 73 An analysis of the last Bundestag election

in 2013, in which the NPD obtained 1.5 % of the vote cast, shows that the far right has gained its

highest support in the areas with low numbers of foreigners. Among the party’s voters were

primarily young men with 10 percent of men in the 18-24 age group and 8 percent of men with

age of 25-34. The data show that the far right rank-and-file were primarily people with relatively

difficult or uncertain living and working conditions. 74 From the regional perspective, the 2013

elections show that the far right is most successful in rural, structurally weak areas of eastern

Germany, which are characterized by a rapid depopulation and high unemployment. The NPD

has won relatively few votes in areas where the population is growing. According to Dierk

Borstel, the far right structures are more firmly rooted in rural areas and small towns. Many

pieces of research show that the development of the far right mostly happens at the local level in

71
David Art, Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2011), 206.
72
Britta Schellenberg, "Germany," In Right-Wing Extremism in Europe (Berlin: Fried Rich Ebert Stiftung, 2013):
59.
73
Ibid., 60.
74
Ibid., 60.

29
places with relatively few immigrants, many older people, and an abundance of young men who

have been left without any future prospects. 75

The Alternative for Germany (AfD)

Recent elections in 2016 have shown unprecedented results of far right-wing party success.

The anti-refugee party, Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), has gained a dramatic number of

votes at regional elections last March, entering state parliament for the first time in three regions.

Although the party exists only three years and not a long time ago it was on the verge of

collapse, this time in Saxony-Anhalt, the party had gained 24.4 percent, according to initial exit

polls, thus becoming the second-biggest party behind the CDU. In Baden-Wurttemberg it won 15

percent and 12.5 percent in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The AfD was founded in 2013 by a group of economists and journalists calling for the

abolition of the euro. After the resignation last year of its founder, Bernd Lucke, the party has

focused on campaigning against the government’s refugee policy, calling for the reintroduction

of border checks. 76 Since the time the party was established, there is an ongoing debate about its

ideological character. From the beginning of its appearance in the German political discourse,

the party originally linked their skepticism towards the Euro. In the elections 2013, its leader

Bernd Lucke in all his public appearances focused on the party’s anti-establishment and anti-

Euro position. 77 At the same time, there are some aspects, which distinguish the AfD from other

actors such as the National Front in France.

75
Britta Schellenberg, "Germany," In Right-Wing Extremism in Europe (Berlin: Fried Rich Ebert Stiftung, 2013),
60.
76
Philip Oltermann, “German Elections: Setbacks for Merkel’s CDU as Anti-Refugee AfD Makes Big Gains,” The
Guardian, March 17, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/13/anti-refugee-party-makes-big-gains-in-
german-state-elections.
77
Nicole Berbuir, Marcel Lewandowsky, and Jasmin Siri, "The AfD and Its Sympathisers: Finally a Right-Wing
Populist Movement in Germany?" German Politics 24, no. 2 (January 2015): 155.

30
According to the research held by Nicole Berbuir, Marcel Lewandowsky and Jasmin Siri,

the 2013 elections have shown that the AfD party platform does not refer to migration in a

strictly negative way, it promotes migration of those people who are fit for work but opposes

‘migration into our (German) welfare systems.’ 78 They conclude that while right-wing extremist

parties directly rely on the arguments of National Socialism, the AfD, similar to other more

moderate right-wing populists in Europe, refers to the supposed incompatibility of different

cultures. Overall, according to debates in political science, the AfD is neither just another right-

wing populist party nor a liberal bourgeois party free from populist and nationalist ideas. 79

Authors describe this party, as a ‘projection screen’ for different concerns and as a ‘functional

equivalent’ for right-wing parties. Moreover, they point out that the AfD is full of tensions

within the organization with potential voters who place themselves in the political center and

with the party’s adopted positions that have a right rhetoric. In sum, according to the research,

the AfD is not a right-wing populist party in itself but may be a right-wing populist movement in

the making. 80

In the recent elections, the AfD fiercely opposed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcome for

refugees. As it was mentioned earlier, the party results showed its new strength. In all three states

Baden-Wurrtemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhault, the showing by the new party

illustrated the decline of the traditional parties. Voter patterns analyzed by pollsters showed the

AfD drew support from people who traditionally do not vote and from disappointed Christian

Democrats, but also from supporters of the Social Democrats and the far-left party. 81 In Saxony-

78
Nicole Berbuir, Marcel Lewandowsky, and Jasmin Siri, "The AfD and Its Sympathisers: Finally a Right-Wing
Populist Movement in Germany?" German Politics 24, no. 2 (January 2015): 167.
79
Ibid., 173.
80
Ibid., 173.
81
Alison Smale, “Setback for Angela Merkel as Far Right Makes Gains in Germany,” Europe (The New York
Times), March 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/14/world/europe/germany-elections.html?_r=0.

31
Anhault, people who did not previously vote were the main source of the new party’s support.

Indeed, this region is characterized by relatively high unemployment and decreasing population.

As many analysts say, the problem is not that the elections are a victory or a defeat of Merkel’s

party, but that the results in the three states reveal the country’s polarization, where the CDU and

the SPD are weaker while the support for other parties is growing. However, given this changing

dynamic in German political discourse, it is necessary to admit that despite the relatively poor

results of Chancellor Merkel’s party, two leaders of other parties who supported her refugee

policy had retained their seats. The Green party with its leader, who passionately defended

Merkel’s open-borders stance, gained an unprecedented 30.5 percent in Baden-Wurttemberg. In

neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate, the Social Democrat won as well.

The Pegida Movement

Between late October 2014 and mid-January 2015, political debate in Germany was

captured by the rapid emergence of a new political movement, the far right group PEGIDA. On

January 12, 2015, PEGIDA drew 25,000 people in an anti-immigrant protest in Dresden,

becoming one of the biggest manifestations in the history of its movement. 82 The protesters

include citizens concerned about religious fanaticism, but also those who stand for racist

ideologies. More important is that these rallies have sparked a debate in Germany and beyond

about cultural identity and migration. This time the movement became more radical than ever

before. In October 2015, thousands of PEGIDA demonstrators participated in the rallies in

82
Alison Smale, “Setback for Angela Merkel as Far Right Makes Gains in Germany,” Europe (The New York
Times), March 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/14/world/europe/germany-elections.html?_r=0.

32
Dresden with the main slogans “deport, deport” against refuges, “we are the people,” and

“Merkel must go.” 83

Based on the recent social science research, the typical PEGIDA supporter “belongs to the

middle class, is well-educated, employed, has a slightly above average after-tax income in the

context of Saxony, is 48 years old, male, not a member of a religious denomination, not closely

linked to a political party and is from Dresden and Saxony.” 84 In short, a significant part of

PEGIDA supporters are more located on the right not on the far right. It is important to point out

that despite the established knowledge that the supporters of right and far right parties are mostly

unemployed and poorly educated, PEGIDA supporters had above –average education and a

stronger than average desire to participate in elections. Moreover, a large number of PEGIDA

supporters have voted AfD and the far right NPD in the previous election. Another study shows

that a majority of supporters of PEGIDA are described themselves as moderate rightists, while

the rest belongs to the far right. The latter group comes from the young less economically

established generation. However, there is a growing frustration or lack of confidence in political

institutions and the mainstream politics noticeably among the German middle-class, who are

dissatisfied with Merkel’s policy and who might adopt a position that is more aligned with that

the lower social classes position, because of the fear that the downward social mobility might

also hit them in the future. 85

In terms of political program, PEGIDA’s program consists of a list of demands: defense of

the ‘Christian-Jewish culture of the Occident’ and a controlled migration policy, followed by the

83
Maik Baumgärtner, Maximilian Popp, “The German lynchmob: Islmophobe movement returns with a
vengeance.” De Speigel Magazine, October 24, 2015, http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/deep-concern-
over-return-of-anti-muslim-pegida-protests-a-1057645.html.
84
Jörg Michael Dostal, "The Pegida Movement and German Political Culture: Is Right-Wing Populism Here to
Stay?" The Political Quarterly 86, no. 4, (2015): 527.
85
Ibid., 527.

33
expulsion of all rejected asylum seekers from Germany and others. Although the party has harsh

rhetoric against Muslim immigrants, it is noticeable that direct criticism of Islam has been

avoided. Instead, the rise of ‘parallel societies’ is criticized as offensive to German laws and civil

liberties. 86 However, today there is a tendency to make the following issues heard in a more

radical way. For example, the movement has found more precise targets: the refugee issue and

Chancellor Merkel. Officials at the state chapter of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency note

that there is a “massive verbal escalation” against Muslim immigrants in German society. 87

Despite the fact that the PEGIDA movement has recently gained historically

unprecedented support, it has to admit that such growing far right populism is unlikely to spread

all over Germany. The overall right-wing share of the electorate is probably higher in the eastern

part of Germany, particularly in Saxony than in any other German state. This movement

remained a Dresden and Saxony-based phenomenon, with some grains of support elsewhere, but

without a German-wide support base. 88 Moreover, after recent rallies, the level of participation

declined nearly as quickly as it had grown beforehand. Such rapid decline is likely to suggest

that PEGIDA had over-expanded, suffered from internal tensions and might disappear as quickly

as it had come into existence. 89 PEGIDA ultimately failed to approach the German public at

large. Citizens took note of PEGIDA and then moved on. Moreover, there is also no data that

PEGIDA mobilized previously passive population to participate in political process for the first

time. 90 However, the PEGIDA movement has shown that political stability in Germany should

86
Jörg Michael Dostal, "The Pegida Movement and German Political Culture: Is Right-Wing Populism Here to
Stay?" The Political Quarterly 86, no. 4, (2015), 530.
87
Maik Baumgärtner, Maximilian Popp, “The German Lynchmob: Islamophobe Movement Returns with a
Vengeance,” SPIEGEL ONLINE, October 14, 2015, http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/deep-concern-
over-return-of-anti-muslim-pegida-protests-a-1057645.html.
88
Jörg Michael Dostal, "The Pegida Movement and German Political Culture: Is Right-Wing Populism Here to
Stay?" The Political Quarterly 86, no. 4, (2015): 524.
89
Ibid., 524.
90
Ibid.,526.

34
not be taken for granted. The recent events have demonstrated that there is a loss of confidence

in the political system among Germans in certain parts of the country.

German U-turns as a sign of far right popularity?

Since Angela Merkel announced to take one million refugees, concerns among the

Germans continued to take place. However, analysis of the development of far right parties and

their role in shaping the positions of mainstream parties over time confirms the fact that it is very

unlikely to see them as a legitimate opposition party in the Bundestag in the nearest future. At

the time of refugee flow in 1992 and a euro crisis in 2008, some predicted it could shape the

German political system, but it did not and it is doubtful that it will happen today.

Yet in the beginning of the crisis, after having been attacked by the critics of the CSU

leader Horst Seehofer and other members of her own party, Angela Merkel’s popularity rating

dropped down. Soon after, she agreed to produce a paper which firstly focused on the influx

management, combating the causes of migration and reducing the number of refugees and

secondly, on secure integration. Next she announced that Germany would reapply the Dublin

rules in regard to asylum for Syrian refugees. 91 So far, Merkel has refused to set limits on the

influx. Instead, Germany concluded a deal with Turkey to stem the flow. In exchange for

European concessions, such as a visa-free travel for Turks and about 6.7 billion dollars in aid,

Turkey would enforce border control and take back any illegal migrants crossing from its shores

to Greece. 92 In this context, Merkel to some extent relieved the domestic pressure since the crisis

started. But such turns in policy were unlikely to happen because of increasing support of far

91
The Dublin Regulation establishes the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum application.
The criteria for establishing responsibility run, in hierarchical order, from family considerations, to recent possession
of visa or residence permit in a Member State, to whether the applicant has entered EU irregularly, or regularly.
See European Commission, “The Dublin Regulation,” (European Parliament, Council of the European Union,
2013).
92
Alison Smale, “Setback for Angela Merkel as Far Right Makes Gains in Germany,” Europe (The New York
Times), March 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/14/world/europe/germany-elections.html?_r=0.

35
right parties among the Germans. Taking into account the fact that at the institutional level, the

situation is not so stable, the Christian Democrats are mostly at risk to break up with their

Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, still none of the mainstream parties want to

have any deal with populists; Merkel’s Christian Democrats refused to even acknowledge the

existence of the AfD. 93

Not long ago the Chancellor had also refined her approach toward refugees in the context

of integration. Recent “integration law” is designed to reassure Germans about the integration of

Muslim asylum-seekers into society. 94 Under the legislation, refugees are obliged to take

German lessons and attend “orientation courses” in order to learn about local values and

customs. In this context, if the draft becomes law, permanent residency for refugees will be

granted only after five years, but only if they can prove elementary knowledge of the German

language, if they have a job which covers “the largest part of their keep,” and if they take

orientation courses. 95

Generally speaking, Merkel is likely to be forced to take a series of measures, aimed at

tightening Germany’s rules for refugees. As SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel put it, “For the first time,

Germany is proactively addressing those who come to us, instead of just watching what they are

doing. This is the great difference to the German immigration history of the last decades.” 96 This

strategy can be explained as a congruent way of the mainstream party to stop the government’s

slide in the polls and get credit from the public for the shift in refugee policy. At the same time,

93
Mattew Karnitschnig, "Identity Politics Keep Feeding Europe’s Far-right," The Politico. June 2, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/identity-politics-keeps-feeding-europes-far-right-jerome-boateng-immigration-
refugees-afd-austria-norbert-hofer-populism/.
94
Janosch Delcker, "Angela Merkel to Refugees: Integration Is a Must," The Politico. May 25, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-to-refugees-integration-is-a-must-germany/.
95
Mattew Karnitschnig, “Identity Politics Keep Feeding Europe’s Far-Right,” The Politico, June 2, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/identity-politics-keeps-feeding-europes-far-right-jerome-boateng-immigration-
refugees-afd-austria-norbert-hofer-populism/.
96
Janosch Delcker, "Angela Merkel to Refugees: Integration Is a Must," The Politico. May 25, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-to-refugees-integration-is-a-must-germany/.

36
Merkel is unlikely to continue to adopt the policies of the right wing, because as it was

mentioned earlier, the success of the far right still has a local phenomenon. Plus, cooperation

with the far right will most probably backfire. There is already a criticism sparked over Merkel’s

party initiative, undermining the effectiveness of these measures. As one of migration experts

Schammann said, “Migration policy is largely about symbolism. It’s about catering to the wish

of the voter. Measures like the orientation courses are also intended to make sure that the

population feels reassured, and that the gap between public opinion and actual policies is not

getting too wide.” 97

France

The lack of a consensus culture in political life leads us to analyze France’s cautiousness

towards the refugee crisis through looking at what role the far right wing party plays in the

French political establishment today. The government cannot find support for a more open

refugee policy from the right wing. Various statements from different members of the

Government including the Prime Minster’s controversial rhetoric put on display the

disagreements taking place in the French establishment. Moreover, the rise of the far right

National Front party seems to paralyze any attempt to have a peaceful consensus on refugee

issues. In the last regional elections on December 2015, the National Front candidates came first

in six out of 13 regions and in 46 out of 96 departments in the first round. The party improved its

results almost everywhere in the second round, including regions where it had no chance of

winning a majority. 98

97
Janosch Delcker, "Angela Merkel to Refugees: Integration Is a Must," The Politico. May 25, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-to-refugees-integration-is-a-must-germany/.
98
Angelique Chrisafis, “'Anything but le Pen': French turn to tactical voting to stop far-right,” The Guardian,
December 11, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/11/le-pen-french-tactical-voting-to-fight-rise-of-
far-right.

37
Origins of the National Front

In contrast to far right parties and movements in Germany, the success of the National

Front (FN) in France cannot be simply explained in the context of history but more likely as a

continuity of personal influence, networks, new discourse of the party, and a generally worsening

political, economic, and security environments in the country today.

The FN was founded in the early 1970s with its head Jean-Marie Le Pen in the context of

the Algerian issue, one of the core ideas of the party, which was later developed into anti-

immigrant, xenophobic, and nationalist slogans. Even though the party had a strong internal

structure with the qualified and educated partisans of Algerie Francaise as its members, it would

not guarantee enough success for the future. However, a favorable political environment helped

the FN to gain real success in recruiting new members. It was Mitterrand who introduced

proportional representation in the 1986 legislative elections, which led to an influx of a new type

of activist into the FN, the opportunist. In short, before the party became more extremist in its

slogans and before Marine Le Pen took the leadership, Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to play with

the permissive political environment in France in the 80’s for the party’s benefits. Particularly,

Le Pen attracted the new type of activists, including notables and members of the New Right,

who could move the FN farther away from its extremist roots and make it more appealing to a

much wider group of voters. However, the FN could not avoid factionalism inside the party and

lost a wide support in the regional elections in 2004. With the appearance of Marine Le Pen as a

leader of the party, the FN did not acquire power at the national level until immigration issues,

an increasing unemployment rate, and the refugee crisis, in Europe became one the main

concerns of the Europeans, particularly of the French. However, it is important to point out that

38
the German case differs significantly from the French one resulting from the organizational

weakness of far right parties, their lack of a strong and charismatic leader. 99 Moreover, France

has offered a richer environment for the institutionalization of right-wing extremism. 100

Although neither in France, nor in Germany was a ban applied of these parties, their rise

provoked a state backlash that in German case was stronger than in French one. For example, in

former West Germany, freedom of speech was restricted in 1949 including the use of Nazi

symbols and racist speech. During the 90’s, several smaller Nazi parties were banned by the

federal minister of the interior. These measures implicitly affected other radical right parties that

they might have the same fate if they violate the rules of the game. Moreover, in contrast to

France, all parties interpreted the new radical right as a threat rather than an opportunity in the

electoral game and tried to marginalize them from the beginning.

Going back to the electoral success of the FN, it is important to mention the summer of

1997 when the party had become the third party in France in terms of its electoral support.

Although the party did not have political representation at the national level, the FN managed to

form a loyal core of voters over the years, which was different than in Germany. According to

the data, drawn by Martin A. Schain in his research, the loyalty rate among FN voters exceed in

1997. 101 Plus, another factor of electoral stability was the percentage of voters supporting the

political platform of the party who feel close to the party, a measure of partisan identity. In

Germany, far right parties’ voters are volatile protest voters, who disagree with the established

99
Michael Mikenberg, "The New Radical Right in the Political Process: Interaction Effects in France and
Germany," In Shadows over Europe: The Development and Impact of the Extreme Right in Western Europe,
Palgrave MaCmillan, (2002): 256.
100
French presidential, legislative and departmental elections are conducted using proportional representation lists.
If no party gets 50 percent of the vote in the first round, a second round takes place. Any party that took more than
10 percent in the first round may enter second round. Any party that got at least five percent of the vote in the first
round can choose to build a coalition with another party.
101
Martin A. Schain, “The National Front and the French Party System,” French Politics and Society 17, no.1
(Winter 1999): 7.

39
parties more than they accept far right rhetoric. The core electorate for example in 1997 had

shown that the FN support was expanded and not concentrated only in cities and towns, while

German far right parties gained support only locally. Thus, expansion has served to reemphasize

the core anti-immigrant, racist, and authoritarian values of the FN party. Moreover, in 1997 the

FN did much better than other parties of the right by building networks at the local level. One of

the main distinctions from the German far right, by sustaining networks the FN has managed to

dominate space, within which it has been able to stabilize and then get additional support. 102

The 2007 presidential elections have shown that the FN’s impact on politics grew as its

ideas became increasingly agenda fitting. Nicolas Sarkosy’s agenda may have led to a fall in the

number of voters for the FN, yet it ultimately proved an ideological victory of the far right

populism in the French political environment. Sarkozy owed much to the FN’s success and

strategy and, in return, the FN owed him much for popularizing and spreading its ideas to the

French mainstream. 103 For example, such themes as a debate on French national identity,

expulsion of Roma families, the banning of the veil in public places and wrestling with Marine

Le Pen for the nativist heritage of Jeanne d’Arc were seen as attractive to far right actual or

potential voters. However, in contrast to Germany, where the center right may profit from

moving to the right, in France such strategy just makes the argument of the far right legitimate.

In this context, part of the FN’s program and the rhetoric have become widely accepted as part of

the political establishment, clearing from the stigma associated with Le Pen’s party. 104 While

Nicolas Sarkozy became president in 2012, the FN dramatically modernized its image. Although

102 Martin A. Schain, “The National Front and the French Party System,” French Politics and Society 17, no.1
(Winter 1999): 8.
103
Aurelien Mondon, The Mainstreaming of the Extreme Right in France and Australia: A Populist Hegemony?
(Ashgate, 2013).
104
Aurelien Mondon, “The Front National in the Twenty-First Century: From Pariah to Republican Democratic
Contender?,” Modern & Contemporary France 22, no. 3 (January 17, 2014).

40
the party, with its new president Marine Le Pen, did not change its cornerstone ideology, the new

discourse helped to get a more respectable image and support. 105 Overall, Marine Le Pen

benefited from three factors: firstly, she got the party with an already established framework and

electorate base. Secondly, in his presidency, Sarkozy mainstreamed the FN’s ideas, which helped

the party in many aspects. Finally, Marine Le Pen got a new image for the party and distanced

itself from her father’s racist claims. In the 2012 elections, the FN reached twelve percent of the

vote in all but one demographic, which was a breakthrough compared to her father’s results.

Most recently in the 2015 regional elections, although the FN party did not win the second

round of the recent regional elections, its rise under the leadership of Marine Le Pen has attracted

more attention of the French political elite nowadays than ever before. Especially after recent

terror attacks and the ongoing refugee crisis, the FN appears in a very strong position. Arthur

Goldhammer highlights the global financial crisis of 2008 and the replacement of party founder

Jean-Marie le Pen by his daughter Marine, who was elected leader in 2011, as two explanations

for the National Front’s rise. 106 In the first place, the French economy has shown its poor

indicators in many areas, especially after the euro and financial crises. Secondly, the new face of

the party with its more moderate rhetoric has become much more appealing to native French

voters. However, these two explanations of the National Front’s rise are insufficient, especially

during the current refugee crisis. Undoubtedly, Marine Le Pen has had a significant impact on

the party, but one of the important changes was to reclaim key concepts in French politics and

reshape them to fit core ideas of the FN. For example, such themes as laïcité (secularism), anti-

immigration, and Islamophobia have allowed the FN to claim a role as defender of the most

105
Aurelien Mondon, “The irresistible rise of the Front National- Populism and the mainstreaming of the extreme
right” in Report edited by the PRIO Cyprus Centre PRIO (2016): 38.
106
Arthur Coldhammer, «Explaining the Rise of the Front national, Political Rhetoric or Cultural Insecurity?»
French Politics, Culture and Society 33, no.2, (Summer 2015).

41
cherished, republican values in France. But before the refugee crisis, as it was already mentioned

such events as 9/11 and hijab ban laws helped the party to get legitimacy of its ethno-exclusivist

ideology. The shift in discourse and the redefinition of republican principles in French politics

has allowed the FN to counterbalance the strategy of mainstream parties. Cecile Alduy and

Stephane Wahnich point out that Marine Le Pen has turned a new focus to the current

dependency on the European market and republican values, including “liberty,” “equality,” and

“laïcité” to attack Islam without naming it. 107 With this new terminology in discourse the FN

has managed to fill the gap in French politics whereas powerless mainstream parties do not have

anything meaningful to offer to increasingly frustrated voters, especially during the refugee crisis

today.

The National Front and the Refugee Crisis

In contrast to Germany, where far right parties are still playing a marginal role, the political

situation in France is different. The immigration question in France is a very politicized issue,

which has become one of the most discussed problems in the current political debates,

particularly with the growing numbers of refugees coming to Europe. In contrast to Angela

Merkel’s standing among members of her party, François Hollande, since he came to power, has

gotten poor support from the public, including his party members. The decision of the French

state to take only a very limited amount of refugees and further Hollande’s policy can be partly

explained by growing support of the FN. The rise of the FN in the country even at the

subnational level might differently influence the French political establishment than the far right

might do in Germany. Given the fact that France has recently gone through a series of terror

attacks and that its economic indicators are worse than ever before, François Hollande’s tactic in

107
Cited in Arthur Coldhammer, «Explaining the Rise of the Front national, Political Rhetoric or Cultural
Insecurity?» French Politics, Culture and Society 33, no.2, (Summer 2015):137.

42
the following crisis has shown his interests’ convergence with those of the National Front in

order to make his stand stronger against the growing support for Marine Le Pen. This is

especially reflected in Hollande’s proposal to strip French nationality from citizens who are

found guilty of terrorist offenses. Marine Le Pen in turn, happily took credit when the new

reforms were announced, saying it was a direct result of her party’s record numbers in recent

polls. 108 She wrote in Twitter, “Removal of nationality: the first effect of the 6.8 million votes

for the FN in regional elections.” Moreover, in the aftermath of November’s attacks in Paris,

Hollande declared that France is at “war.” The measure of “state of emergency” gave the

government the authority to search houses without a warrant. The use of such vocal rhetoric is

aimed to rehabilitate Hollande’s flailing presidency, to reassure public opinion, and to veil the

inadequacies of French security. 109

Although Hollande’s proposals were withdrawn, the current situation taking place in the

French establishment illustrates the following dynamics. First and foremost, Hollande was driven

to adopt such measures usually associated with the right wing rhetoric, to defend himself from

attacks from the political far right. Indeed, this denaturalization measure has received an 85

percent approval rating among the French public. 110 It is interesting to note that Hollande’s

proposal towards citizenship had been already advocated by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011 but quickly

dismissed by the center-left Socialists, whose secretary-general at the time was Hollande himself,

and by the Socialist mayor of Evry, Manuel Valls. However, today both politicians have actively

promoted this decision, dismissing the fact that it goes against not only the principles of their

108
Arthur Coldhammer, «Explaining the Rise of the Front national, Political Rhetoric or Cultural Insecurity?»
French Politics, Culture and Society 33, no.2, (Summer 2015): 137.
109
Sudhir Hazareesingh, “Marine le Pen Trumps’ Hollande,” The Politico, October 12, 2015,
http://www.politico.eu/article/marine-le-pen-trumps-hollande/.
110
"France's State of Fear and Swing to the Right," Stratfor, January 15, 2016,
https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/frances-state-fear-and-swing-right.

43
party but also the principles they have themselves proclaimed. Secondly, there has been a

growing criticism inside and outside the French establishment. In the new version of

denaturalization, not only offenders with dual citizenship status could be prosecuted but also

French citizens who have just one nationality. This kind of shift would represent a sharp change

in French approach to citizenship, bringing back the memories of the denaturalization of Jews in

Vichy France during the Second World War. Patrick Weil said France would become “the first

democracy in the world” to cherish in its constitution the principle of unequal treatment of dual

nationals. He added, “it introduces the idea of a different penalty for the same act, just because of

the random chance of their birth.” 111 Finally, according to the recent polls, Hollande’s popularity

has dropped three points from the last IFOP poll (Institut français d’opinion publique), 112 which

placed him at 17 percent in September. 113 Therefore, on the one hand Hollande tries to imitate

his right-wing opposition implementing symbolic measures which are un-Socialist and go

against civil liberties; on the other hand, he tries to tackle the problem of controlling a leftist

political party, which has recently become more split than ever before.

As the 2017 presidential elections get closer it seems likely that Marine Le Pen will reach

the second round and make a new breakthrough in terms of the vote. Moreover, the environment,

in which the FN will compete, especially after recent terror attacks in Paris and failing

presidency of François Hollande, could not be more ideal. On the left, the FN will compete with

the most unpopular president in the whole history of the Fifth Republic. On the center right, les

111
"Hollande under Fire over ‘right-wing’ Call to Strip Citizenship from Terror Convicts | The National," The
National, December 30, 2015. http://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/hollande-under-fire-over-right-wing-call-to-
strip-citizenship-from-terror-convicts.
112
International polling and market research firm
113
Madeline Grant, "French Far-Right Leader Le Pen Twice as Popular as President Hollande, Says Poll,"
Newsweek, November 04, 2014, http://www.newsweek.com/far-right-leader-marine-le-pen-twice-popular-france-
current-president-hollande-282090.

44
Republicans might not overcome their internal divisions. In these circumstances, the FN will get

more legitimacy and continue to be a major player in French politics in 2017. 114

Overall, the success of the French right party and its influence on the changing positions of

François Hollande is the result of many factors including ongoing political and economic

stagnation, a new image of FN, and decreasing support of the mainstream policy among the

voters. France cannot compete anymore with Germany and its economic strength. Indeed, fears

that the refugee influx will ultimately force the country to also take in more Syrians might

continue to spark public anti-immigrant resentment and lead to the further rise of the FN. By

showing a latent form of converging interests with the FN, François Hollande will probably have

the potential to stop the National Front’s rise. However, it is also politically feasible that this

time the FN might successfully capitalize on the concerns with refugees and the general growing

of public grievances, even though it was unable to secure victory in the 2015 regional elections.

Far right: balance the leaders’ position in shaping states’ policies?

Comparing the rise of far right parties in Germany and France and the extent to which they

have shaped the positions of leaders, it would be right to say that the risk of further rising support

for the FN and its influence on mainstream politics is relatively higher than of the far right

parties in Germany. The political culture of postwar Germany makes it difficult for voters to

support any party that has connections to neo-Nazism. Plus, the far right parties have followed

ineffective strategies and organizational weakness. In France, where the economic situation is

getting unpredictable and the rating of Hollande’s popularity continues to be incredibly low, the

FN has managed to secure a firmer position through the personal influence of its leader,

networks, new discourse and permissive political environment in the country.

114
Aurelien Mondon, “The irresistible rise of the Front National- Populism and the mainstreaming of the extreme
right” in Report edited by the PRIO Cyprus Centre PRIO (2016): 40.

45
Nevertheless, what we see today is how both leaders, Angela Merkel and François

Hollande, are trying to normalize their approaches to refugee resettlement domestically. By

normalization, I mean that both leaders have tried to counterbalance the rise of criticism

domestically by taking such decisions as an attempt to toughen naturalization law in the case of

France and introducing of temporary border controls and a suspension of the Schengen

agreement in the case of Germany. While Angela Merkel to some extent relieved domestic

pressure as a consequence of increasingly framing the migrant question in international terms, 115

François Hollande does not have enough credence among his voters and party members to use

the same instrument of policy balancing in his favor. In previous crises, Merkel’s reputations for

caution, and her preference to delay as to avoid big decisions made Germany as a reluctant

leader, a ‘geo-economic’ power. Thus, the domestic and international expectations on the

Chancellor have grown. In contrast to France, Angela Merkel has both institutional and political

power. Although the current domestic political situation in Germany is to some extent a

constraining factor for the Chancellor, international frame of the crisis through balancing

domestic politics with foreign policy gives her more room for maneuvering than for Hollande.

Therefore, the reasons of shifting positions of two courtiers have different origins. In the case of

Germany, Angela Merkel is more worried about the long-term consequences of the migration

crisis. Firstly, through the balancing, she is trying to avoid a change in German policies against a

difficult historical background. Secondly, and more importantly, by toughening the measures,

building fences and only being driven by its own interests, Germany will undermine its position

in the EU. And then the EU will tackle not only migration crisis but also a German question.

Meanwhile, François Hollande is more concerned with the shorter-term consequences of the

115
The support of CDU was increasing after three months of decline, 19 August 2015: 43 percent, 17 November
2015: 36 percent and 22 December 2015: 39 percent, Spiegel Online, 2015-16.

46
migration crisis particularly of continuous rise of the FN, loss of credence among his voters and

party members and of others. Thus, the French President has mostly shifted his decisions in order

to counterbalance the far right rhetoric and get back the support from his voters.

CHAPTER III: New Identity?

This chapter will explain why understanding the significance of cultural and national

identities is vital for decision-making of the leader but not the sole factor. Specifically, this

section will explore the German and French national identities as well as cultural identity of

migrants.

Since the 1980s social science explored how meanings, expectations, and conflicts are

associated with the different groups of people, how individuals represent themselves using one

element or another that describes their identity, how these elements can be categorized, and how

different identities can be negotiated when they are a part of one country. In this context, this

section shows how national identity in countries that receive immigrants has developed over

time, how identities of newcomers and of the receiving country have been transformed or

remained unchanged; and finally, how conflict of national identities with the cultural identity of

newcomers is not a totalizing aspect of a country’s taking of a position in the refugee crisis.

On the subject of identity, a majority of scholars depict the arrival in the receiving country

as a “total” event because it requires the complete reconstruction of individual identity.

Moreover, leaving their country of origin, migrants lose their social status, family, and social

networks. In the receiving country, they find themselves lost and excluded. During the

integration process in the receiving country migrants still remain strangers. Overall, migrants live

between idealization and disillusionment both in the receiving country and in the country of

origin. In reality, they belong neither here nor there.

47
While migrants are searching for a new identity, the receiving country is also facing

pressures from within and without. Both countries, Germany and France, feel apprehensive about

their national identity and culture. They are both struggling to defuse the potentially explosive

mix of nationalism and fear of the Muslim “stranger,” while defining citizenship for their

marginalized immigrants. In this context, the appearance of a new national identity might be one

of the potential factors of the decision-making of two countries on current refugee resettlement.

Germany

Leading the Grand Coalition as of 2005, Angela Merkel, the first woman Chancellor has

shifted exclusive images of Germaness towards a new identity paradigm, as a multicultural

country, which should learn to coexist with difference and destroy any belief in national

exceptionalism. She introduced a bold strategy for integrating minorities of migrant descent at

home. Her pro-active approach reflects her scientific background as a physicist, combined with a

special gender-sensitivity to social inclusiveness and pragmatic-Protestant commitment to human

rights. Today, answering to the question “who are Germans,” it would be right to recall Richard

Schroder’s response, “We are Germans?, Nothing special but something particular.” 116

German Ethno-Cultural Identity and its Turkish Muslims

As the depth of the challenge of taking more than a million refugees this year has become

apparent, the discussion in the German political establishment has shifted from the short-term

concerns to identity, the subject that makes Germans worried. Long before the refugee crisis

began, in 2010, Muslims has already constituted five percent of the German population.

Although a relatively small share of the general population, Muslims have become a target of

hostility. One study showed that the level of hostility toward Muslims in Germany was among

116
Cited in Joyce Marie Mushaben, "Rethinking Citizenship and Identity: ‘What It Means to Be German’ since the
Fall of the Wall." German Politics 19, no. 1 (March 2010): 86.

48
the highest in Europe. 117 In 2010, Thilo Sarrazin, a board member of the Deutsche Bundesbank,

published a book where he argued that Muslim immigrants drag down the country’s average skill

level and it will continue to decline. The author went further by defending the idea of racial

superiority and claiming that intelligence is not nurtured, but inherited. There are genetic

differences between the IQs of Muslims and those of ethnic Germans. According to the author,

Germany is under threat of becoming a less intelligent society because Muslims have a higher

fertility rate than ethnic Germans. At that time public opinion showed that one-third of ethnic

Germans agreed with Sarrazin’s argument. 118

The migration question has sparked open and lively debates on national identity for the last

couple of years. Taking into account the fact that in post-war era, German nationalism was often

a source of shame, not pride, the factor of a growing number of Muslim immigrants in the

country have urged German society to rethink its identity in order to reconstruct the essence of

being German. After Merkel’s decision to be a main saver of refugee lives in the crisis of 2015,

German public opinion showed uncertainty in this regard. In the beginning of the crisis, a solid

majority of Germans expressed optimism about the country’s deal with the refugee crisis. Now

polls show Germans are increasingly skeptical. 119 A slight majority says they are scared. About

one third say they are concerned the large number of foreigners will threaten Germany’s societal

and cultural values. Today the discussion of German identity largely takes place inside

Germany’s political mainstream. While large parts of the population offer strong support and

help, a substantial percentage of Germans protest against further immigration.

117
Liav Orgard, The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights (Oxford University Press,
2016): 99.
118
Cited in Liav Orgard, The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights (Oxford University
Press, 2016): 99.
119
Matthew Karnitschnig, "Identity Politics Keep Feeding Europe’s Far-right," The Politico, June 2, 2016.
http://www.politico.eu/article/identity-politics-keeps-feeding-europes-far-right-jerome-boateng-immigration-
refugees-afd-austria-norbert-hofer-populism/.

49
Generally speaking Germany is a bit of paradox. The constitution offers asylum to

refugees, but no explicit immigration law whatsoever is in place. Moreover, not a long time ago

Germany has admitted the fact that it is a country of immigration. While traditionally a

xenophobic culture, around five million foreigners currently live in the country. Given the

country’s history as a relatively young nation, Germans have always been less sure than the

French of what defines them as a people and a nation. At the same time racist attitudes by

portraying the refugees and immigrants as ‘invaders’ and ‘others’ have taken place long before

the unification of Germany. It is important to go back to nationality law and look at the historical

and contemporary developments through the perspective of national identity formation.

There are different conceptions of how nationality law affects the idea of a nation as a

whole. Many scholars concluded that German nationality laws were a form of ‘institutional

racism’ because of their ethno-cultural foundations and exclusion of non-Germans. 120 However,

it would be better to say that on the official level, since 2000, Germany’s naturalization policy

has become easier, while concerning the emotional sentiments of belonging, things have very

much remained the same.

There was no German nation state and no German citizenship until 1875. The current basis

of nationality can be traced to the 1913 Nationality Law, which defined the German nation as a

common culture with the basic principle of jus sanguinis, meaning that a person could become a

German citizen only if a person had German ancestry. The German nation was considered as a

natural community, within which “nationhood [was] an ethno cultural, not a political fact.” 121

However, the symbolic and explicit description of German society as an immigration country led

the new government to initiate the liberalization of immigration and citizenship laws and

120
Andrew Geddes, The Politics of Migration and Immigration in Europe (London: SAGE Publications, 2003), 93.
121
Ibid., 94.

50
reformulation of state policies towards questions of integration and cultural and ethnic

diversity. 122 In the 1990s, Germany moved towards a civic model with a combination of jus soli

and jus sanguinis. Since January 2000, every child born in Germany to a foreign parent with a

residency permit is German. However, at the age of twenty-three, he will have to choose between

the nationality of his parents and German nationality. 123 Patrick Weil argues that such reforms

have created confusion between nationality law and the concept of the German nation. He

explains that Germany, like France, having become a country of immigration, eventually left its

racial concept of the nation, and adopted measures allowing the integration of children of non-

German immigrants into its nationality. By comparing French nationality law and the German

one, he concludes that the conception of the nation and nationality law have developed

independently. While the basis of German citizenship law was partially changed, the idea of

“Germanness” founded on the idea of blood and soil remains supported by a large part of the

population. In contrast, Rogers Brubaker makes a constant difference between French and

German conceptions of nationhood, leading to divergent citizenship policies. As he puts it, “If

the French understanding of nationhood has been state-centered and assimilationist, the German

understanding has been volk-centered and differentialist.” 124

In the 1980s, when East Germany and West Germany were reunited, national identity was

reborn: one nation, one Germany. In reality, there were two completely different parts of one

country. To avoid this antagonism, the search for a national connecter through differentiating the

122
Gotz Nordbrunch, Migration, Islam and National Identity, Report, Center for Mellomoststudier, (September
2011), 8.
123
Patrick Weil and Catherine Porter, How to Be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789.
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2008),190.
124
Rogers Brubaker, Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1992, p.1.

51
‘other’ was the good way to start identity-building process. 125 This might explain the rise in

German nationalism, which ended up with the killings of several Muslim immigrants.

Today, although with a radical shift from jus sanguins to jus soli, Germany stands as one

of the most liberal states in Europe with regards to citizenship. Recent studies highlighted the

growing importance attributed to cultural conformity as a central component for citizenship.

Being German is still linked to specific phenotypes. The country with the general self-perception

of a highly homogenous, ethnically based nation and the non-definable lead culture Leitkultur

still makes people who have lived older than 50 years or were born there to migrant parents feel
126
not unconditionally accepted and belonging as normal members of society. The prejudice

over immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, and cultural distance between German

cultural distance and Muslim immigrants have continuously taken place in German society.

Moreover, since the late 1990s, and since the events of 9/11, the public’s perception of

immigration was increasingly linked to the question of religion. Even though according to the

constitution, the state has the ‘positive neutrality’ towards religion, it was obliged to integrate

practicing Muslims into society. In this context, the growing importance of religion in public and

political discourse is notable. 127

In Germany more than 90 percent of the Muslims are of Turkish nationality, and 99.9

percent of the Turkish nationals are Muslims. 128 Even though Turkey has a secular constitution,

the nation profoundly identifies with its Muslim origins. As one association leader said: “Our

body is Turkish and our soul is Muslim,” highlighting the importance of Islam. In Germany, the

125
Naika Foroutan, Identity and (Muslim) Integration in Germany, Report, Humboldt University. Migration Policy
Institute, (2013): 10.
126
Ibid., 9.
127
Gotz Nordbrunch, Migration, Islam and National Identity, Report, Center for Mellomoststudier, (September
2011), 9.
128
Riva Kastoryano, Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2002) 95.

52
difference is explained not only as cultural but also as structural. After the mid-1990s Turkish

Muslims became associated with their Muslim identity rather than their Turkish identity, a shift

that correlated with their increasing adoption of German citizenship. Individuals with a different

nationality or religion live as a separate group. In some arguments, such segregated communities

are considered as undermining existing social stability; in others, parallel structures would not

only cause mutual alienation, but also lead to a replacement of the existing order. Regardless of

their German citizenships, Muslims and Islam are identified a threat to society. 129 Not only

numerous studies have addressed the religious aspects of immigration but also the political

establishment has defined questions related to religious practices as a new field of state policy.

However, unlike France, there is no legacy of colonialism to harden or unduly politicize the

stance of Muslims toward the German state.

As has been previously mentioned, Germany is full of paradoxes, especially in the question

of the recognition of Turkish minorities. It is true that the German ethnic concept of national

identity relatively challenges the process of Muslim immigrants’ integration, but according to

Riva Kastoryano’s argument, in contrast to France, the Turkish immigrants’ power of negotiation

in the question of recognition draws most of its strength from their economic integration. In

France the economic contribution of immigrant groups is not easily measured by statistics. Once

an immigrant becomes a French citizen, he or she will be classified as French. Compared to

France, “The hard core of German identity is the economy,” stated Barbara John, leader of the

Auslanderbeauftrage of Berlin in 1993. 130 Business owned by the foreign born have become an

important component of the German economy over the past fifteen years. The Board of Trade

129
Cited in Gotz Nordbrunch, Migration, Islam and National Identity, Report, Center for Mellomoststudier,
(September 2011), 10.
130
Cited in Riva Kastoryano, Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2002), 160.

53
noted that self-employment rates among Muslim immigrants in the country has constantly risen

over the past twenty years, proving they are increasing productivity in establishing new jobs with

new employees. Considering the Turkish population, alone- the largest single Muslim immigrant

group, one can observe an increase in self-employment rates of more than 200 percent since

1991. 131 In this sense, every individual who participates in public life dominated by economic

competition can be considered as a citizen. 132 This very specific concept of citizenship makes

economics serve politics, unlike in France, where politics prevails over economics. 133 In this

context, the term “constitutional patriotism” (“Verfassungspatriotismus”) proposed an alternative

basis that could provide common forum for immigrants and native citizens. 134 The term draws

attention to the procedure through which values and norms might be negotiated. For example, an

image of economic success helped to change the image of the Turks. They are not perceived just

as foreign workers, but are also considered citizens who participate in building civil society.

However, as it was mentioned earlier, given Germany’s history as a country ethnically centered,

in 1998 the term “Leitkultur” or “lead culture,” which had a culturalist narrative of national

identity, was originally coined by Bassam Tibi and explicitly adopted by prominent

politicians. 135

Regarding the current development of German national identity, although Germany is

known as a nation which is still undergoing the formation process, the German state strongly

identifies as ‘Christian-Occidental,’ where Islam has no place. 136 Uncertainty over the

131
Cited in Naika Foroutan, Identity and (Muslim) Integration in Germany, Report, Humboldt University. Migration
Policy Institute, (2013): 8.
132
Riva Kastoryano, Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2002), 160.
133
Ibid., 160.
134
Gotz Nordbrunch, Migration, Islam and National Identity, Report, Center for Mellomoststudier, (September
2011), 10.
135
Ibid., 11.
136 Christian Joppke, Veil: Mirror of Identity (Cambridge: Polity, 2009), 62.

54
coexistence of Muslim religious identity and German Christian-Occidental identity has appeared

in the public discourse in particular after the unification of Germany and has continued to take

place nowadays. The formation of German identity and its relation to Muslim religious identity

has shown the rise of skepticism among Germans toward Muslims in general. The problem is

that many of the million who are expected to come to Germany are Muslims. In this context,

there is a question of how Germany will manage to incorporate Muslim religious identity and

save its own national identity.

France

A series of terror attacks in France for the last couple of years have acted to illuminate

France’s struggle with itself. The Charlie Hebdo shootings, the 2015 November Paris attacks,

and the recent terror attack in Nice, all took place against a background of profound anxieties

afflicting France today, particularly of uncertainty over the meaning of Frenchness. Generally

speaking, France’s last three presidents, have been incapable of articulating a new identity for

their country. And such moments of violence and conflict have amplified an existing sense of

collective crisis about the state of France, its national identity and specifically the impact of

cultural and religious identities of the country’s ten millions Muslims on its core republican

values.

French Republicanism

A majority of ethnically French people may seek to keep out migrants, in the current case

refugees, who are seen as a challenge to the ‘liberal culture’ (liberal values and institutions);

‘national culture’ (language, national symbols, common destiny); or ‘popular culture’ (dress

code, folklore, social norms). In 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French President, claimed,

“If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national

55
community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France.” In

Sarkozy’s view, France has “been too busy with the identity of those who arrived and not enough

with the identity of the country that accepted them.” Sarkozy’s Chief of Staff and the Minister of

the Interior, Claude Guent, made an even more astonishing observation. There are no equal

civilizations, but those, which believe in Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité are superior. 137 Those,

which do not accept these ideas, are inferior civilizations.

Europe’s cultural challenge, specifically the French one, is obviously not a myth. The

Muslim question in France is interwoven with a broader debate over French identity. Due to

various reasons, which are discussed in this paper as well, “there is an angst over identity in

Europe,” argues Vincent Geisser, “There is a feeling that Europe is becoming smaller and less

important. Europe is like an old lady, who whenever she hears a noise thinks it is a burglary.” In

this perspective, Islam is “a box in which everyone expresses their fears.” In regards to the

French case, the national debate over the essence of French identity gives a rare chance to get a

sense of the French’s perceptions of themselves and their expectation of the process of becoming

French. The research drawn in Liav Orgad’s recent book shows that “it is impossible to provide a

single definition of what constitutes the French national identity.” 138 The author identifies well

three main features. The first tenet is French history and culture, the second one is the French

language, and the last one is loyalty to French values, which is a basis of French identity.

The questions “Who is a Frenchman?” and “What are the qualities one should possess to

become French?” are complicated. In February 2009, President Sarkozy launched a nationwide

discussion over the meaning of being French. 139 Sarkozy’s question, “what is French?” sparked a

137
Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood
138
Liav Orgard, The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights (Oxford University Press,
2016): 93.
139
Ibid., 92.

56
lot of discussions in the media and in French society. The results have shown that when nations

start to examine what holds a people together, they often conclude that there are more sources of

division than unity. 140 As Patrick Weil argues, becoming French is a dynamic concept that

changes frequently. “Since Revolution, France has changed its nationality laws more often

significantly than any other democratic nation has.” 141 Discussions on French identity have

slowly turned to the debate over compatibility between Islamic and French values. In contrast to

Germany, where multiculturalism has prevailed, the idea of French integration has been to

assimilate foreigners ‘into Frenchmen.’ 142 However, such a model did not have a desirable

outcome. Although Muslim immigrants with French citizenship might be assimilated, culturally

some of them have not associated themselves with French values. Instead, they are living in

French suburbs (banlieu), where they are constantly exposed to marginalization and even

radicalization.

One of the main issues, which distinguishes French culture from other European countries,

is the principle of laïcité (principle of secularism). France is a secular country where church is

separated from the state. The fact that most of the immigrants in France are Muslims, who are

considered themselves as adherents of Islam, has created a lot of controversy over Muslim

immigrants’ integration into French secular society and over meaning of French identity.

The headscarf ban laws of 2004 and 2010 have strengthened Islamic activism and

facilitated Muslims to situate religious identity at the center of their political interests. Among

the French public, such a ban on religious symbols was widely endorsed. Presenting the bill,

140
Liav Orgard, The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights (Oxford University Press,
2016), 92.
141
Cited in Patrick Weil and Catherine Porter, How to Be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789.
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 92.
142
Riva Kastoryano, Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2002), 43.

57
Jean-François Cope, the political leader of the Union for a Popular Movement, called the ban “a

law of liberation.” 143 Eric Raoult, the rapporteur of the commission that recommended banning

the burqua, went even further by saying “we went to fight Islamic fundamentalism…the burqa is

a manifestation of that fundamentalism.” 144 French scholar Olivier Roy claims that Muslims

challenge French identity, not necessarily because of Islam, but since Muslims tend to display

religious symbols in the public sphere: “We have nothing against immigrants, but we want

secular Muslims…The problem is not Islam but religion.” 145 The scholar names one of the main

French values, laïcité, as anti-religious ideology, which does not give flexibility towards

religious Muslim immigrants. In France today the state has constructed the identity, which makes

a believer disappeared as a citizen. Instead it focuses on cultural, normative and ethnical

homogenization. And headscarf ban is the one of many issues where French universal ideology

has collided with religious and cultural identity of majority of immigrants. Long before refugee

crisis of 2015, Islam has already called into question the very identity of the country, mainly

laïcité, the sacred French concept. Thus, the state has decided to adopt, as Olivier Roy put it, a

policy of “militant laïcité.” 146 However, it has led to a greater split in French society over the

identity meaning.

From the identity perspective, the French reaction to refugees has shown that important

national interests might be under threat. As we can see that French national identity has been

undermined since the number of Muslim migrants went above ten percent of the population.

Since that time there is a revival of national identity debates. While a new population with a

143
Liav Orgard, The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights (Oxford University Press,
2016): 94.
144
Ibid., 94.
145
Olivier Roy, «Islam in the West or Western Islam? The disconnect of Religion and Culture,» The Hedgehos
Review (Spring/Summer 2006): 127.
146
Ibid., 127.

58
different culture has arrived, France tried to formulate their identity in order to strengthen its

solidarity and unity. As it was previously mentioned, the French assimilationist model failed

because it ignored the religious dimension of immigrants’ identities, or even presupposed that

this dimension would disappear during the process of integration. 147 The idea of granting to

immigrants “nothing as a community (nation), everything as individual citizens” has resulted in

the rise of different forms of Islamic religious revivals among integrated immigrants. Although

in France the right of nationality is granted to anyone who expresses the wish to live there,

naturalization has become an indispensable part of French citizenship. Since the French people

are those who have French nationality according to the French Constitution, a French identity

has become more linked to the notion of citizenship than to cultural, historical, or ethnic ties.

However, most of those immigrants who have gotten French citizenship, do not want to abandon

their culture and religion, which in many aspects is contradictory to French republican values.

This creates a paradox in the French model of integration. The pursuit of nationwide equality has

led to an aggressive suppression of diversity, which in turn has caused marginalization and

enormous ghettoization of Muslim immigrants in the country, which historically had an open

border policy for immigrants from its ex-colonies. 148 Olivier Roy has observed that the

assimilationist model dismisses the disconnection between religion and cultures, which has

recently taken place. Thus it has resulted in a surge of religious identities at a time when

secularization is seen as a prerequisite for democracy and modernity. 149 In fact, Islam is seen as a

mirror in which Europe, particularly France, is looking at its own identity, but it does not offer a

147
Olivier Roy, «Islam in the West or Western Islam? The disconnect of Religion and Culture,» The Hedgehos
Review (Spring/Summer 2006): 128.
148
Cadet Andrea Walton, “Migration sans Assimilation: Muslim Immigration in France,” New Horizons Online
(April 2007): 6.
149
Olivier Roy, «Islam in the West or Western Islam? The disconnect of Religion and Culture,» The Hedgehos
Review (Spring/Summer 2006): 129.

59
new culture or new values. Laïcité remains one of the main principles of republican French

identity on the one hand, and on the other hand, one of those essentially contested concepts that

are politically useful precisely because it has no agreed-upon definition. This paper does not

have the purpose to analyze the possible factors of current identity anxiety but it is important to

mention that the confusion over the meaning of laïcité creates frustration in understanding what

the Frenchman has to be. As John Bowen put it, there has never been agreement on the role of

religion should play in public life. Some in France hold laïcité to guarantee freedom of public

religious practice, while others think that it prevents such practice. However, there is no

historical actor called laïcité. 150 Meanwhile, the French state has actively intensified debates

about what laïcité should be and how Muslims has to act not in a light of a firm legal and cultural

French identity, but at the same time in a light of a blurring sense of certitude about what France

was, is, and will be. In reacting to Islam as a political religious power, which seeks to transform

Western European society and which threatens all the achievements of Enlightenment, French

public opinion tends to construct an enemy in face of Muslim immigrants. After the appearance

of such inadequate phenomena as radical Islam, as Jean Pierre Denis, director of the weekly

Christian publication La vie (Life), put it, French society has been divided into those who are

ashamed of their Christian past and those, who see immigrants as ‘aliens’ who threaten the

stability of non-Christian society. His argument that France does not have to build those walls,

which were demolished in Europe, might have been a good framework for further development

of dialogue between Muslim minorities and the native French. However, Holland’s strategy in

the recent refugee crisis has taken another direction. He has insisted on the republican principles

and the accommodation of Islam. Indeed French Islam has not become a significant counterforce

150
John Bowen, Why the French Don't like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2007), 33.

60
against radical Islam. Starting from 2012, France has been attacked by a series of terrorist

invasions. It is important to highlight that the combination of identity uncertainty and a bad

image of Islam creates frustration in the society in regard to incoming refugees. So far the French

establishment has returned to the notion of clash of civilizations, defining de-Christianization of

Europe as one of the causes of the rise of radical Islam. 151

Identity as an absolute explanation?

On the one hand, in contrast to Germany, the French identity dilemma is most acute

because of its strongly universalist republican convictions. The French rejection of pluralism in

the name of national integration and an ideal of value-monism are two factors, which have not

given a chance for Muslim immigrants to be recognized and heard. Put differently, it has

questioned the true meaning of identity on both sides, Muslim incomers and ethnic French

citizens. As most of the Syrian refugees are Muslims, it might add fuel to the fire and completely

reshape French national identity or further aggravate the integration crisis. On the other hand,

paradoxically, according to the polls mentioned earlier, the significantly most widespread anti-

Muslim attitudes were found in Germany and Hungary. 152 Moreover, Germany has a worse

perception of adherents of non-Christian religions than publics in France. 153 It would be bold

enough to say that in one of these countries the identity question has played a decisive role in

shaping the country’s position in the refugee crisis. However, there is still an issue for both states

today to define what kinds of values are essential for their countries’ secular model of society

and what kinds are negotiable.

151
Vladimir Chernyaga, “Bendy Paths of Secularism,” Russia in Global Affairs 3, May 5, 2016,
http://www.globalaffairs.ru/number/Izvilistye-puti-sekulyarizma-18139.
152
Andreas Zick, Hövermann and Beate Küpper, Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: A European Report,
(Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Forum Berlin, 2011).
153
Cited in Andreas Zick, Hövermann and Beate Küpper, Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: A European
Report, (Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Forum Berlin, 2011).

61
The French case has shown that its secularism and non-negotiable republican principles

have left the country with no power to tackle the development of Islamism. For France one of the

important problems to solve is a question of separation of church and state in a new perspective,

whether it is a question of the religious right’s clerical hold over the political power, or an

ideological chauvinism that hides behind the reason and the Enlightenment and Reason. In

Germany the demonization of Islam and Islamism has only deepened the level of distrust

between the Muslim communities and German nationals. Overall, if we use a clash of national

identities with the cultural identities of newcomers as the only explanation to the countries’

refugee policy today then we are left with the questions which identity cannot answer. The

discussion above shows that both countries have an issue of cultural identity of newcomers,

which does not fit the concept and principles of the nation of receiving countries. However, it

would be mistaken to say that the clash of identities takes place in a way that shapes the refugee

policy of the countries in the current crisis. Although German and French immigration and

refugee policies, citizenship laws, naturalization and models of integration have been more or

less different, integration of Muslim migrants failed in both countries. In this context, if the

identity problem were more in place than other factors, both countries would react otherwise.

CHAPTER IV: Role of Personality

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but


his judgment; and he betrayes instead of serving you if he
sacrifices it to your opinion.” Edmond Burke, 1774

This chapter will focus on decision-making as the result of individual ‘human agency;’ that

is, that ultimately, it is individuals who make decisions, not states, which Jensen describes as a

62
‘legal abstraction.’ 154 Specifically the regulation of this crisis is significantly impacted by

personality. Jensen identifies a number of situations in which personality is more likely to affect

decision-making. He distinguishes the following conditions: the leader must be interested in

foreign affairs, the situation must be non-routine, and the information regarding the situation

must be ambiguous. The scholar argues that crisis situations are more prone to the effects of

personality. Therefore, decisions are based on personal perceptions of the situation rather than on

rational calculations. 155 Rosati adds that the structure of individual cognition is based on

background, past experiences, belief systems, and others. 156

There are a variety of ways in which personality can affect decision-making. Different

political scientists make different distinctions, although the most common distinction is the

categorization of the leaders as either aggressive or conciliatory leaders. 157 Others include

pragmatists or crusades, and ideologues and opportunists. 158

According to Herman, an aggressive leader can be characterized by a high need for power,

a tendency toward suspiciousness, high levels of paranoia, while conciliatory leaders are

distinguished by displaying a desire to affiliation, friendly relations with others and an ability to

explore different policy options. 159 Overall examination and analysis of individual psychological

variables can be extremely important in understanding decision-making of the leaders. The

154
Lloyd Jensen, Explaining Foreign Policy (London: Prentice-Hall, 1982), 13.
155
Ibid., 13.
156
Jerel Rosati, "A Cognitive Approach to the Study of Foreign Policy," In Foreign Policy Analysis: Continuity and
Change in Its Second Generation, (N.J. : Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, 1995).
157
Margaret Hermann, "Explaining Foreign Policy Behavior Using the Personal Characteristics of Political
Leaders," International Studies Quarterly 24, no. 1 (March 1980).
158
Margaret Hermann, Thomas Preston, Baghat Korany, and Timothy M. Shaw, "Who Leads Matters: The Effects
of Powerful Individuals," Int Studies Review International Studies Review 3, no. 2 (Summer 2001).
159
Margaret Hermann, "Explaining Foreign Policy Behavior Using the Personal Characteristics of Political
Leaders," International Studies Quarterly 24, no. 1 (March 1980).

63
extent to which personality influences policymaking depends significantly on the individual, his

decision style, and many other factors, which are out of scope of this section.

Angela Merkel’s pragmatism

In Angela Merkel’s office, there is only one picture: a silver-framed portrait of Sophie von

Anhalt-Zerbst, later known as Catherine the Great. As ruler of Russia, Catherine pursued policies

very much in the spirit of Enlightenment, but she was also vigorously imperialist. She loved to

play with power, converted to the Orthodox Faith, took a Russian first name, made use of men

and ruled for thirty-four years. 160 Although the Chancellor tends to dismiss any interpretations,

such personal moments still might help to guess who is this politician who has become a global

figure in the years since 2010.

Since Angela Merkel became a politician, she was called the Iron Chancellor, woman of

the year 2015, the most powerful woman in the world, a reluctant mediator and an incremental

pragmatist. But this time she became “Mother Merkel” by resettling many Syrian refugees in the

country. The word in German, Mutti (Mommy), is even cozier, summoning the sense of being

cared for that accumulated over Merkel’s 10 years in office. 161

Taking into account other EU member states’ responses to refugee distribution, Angela

Merkel’s approach to the crisis is remarkable. On August 31th, Mrs. Merkel announced that

today’s refugee influx would have graver consequences for the future of the EU than the euro

crisis. “If Europe fails on the question of refugees, it won’t be the Europe we wished for.”

Although the political tone in the country has turned against the Chancellor, Angela Merkel has

taken a brave stand by suspending European asylum rules and allowing tens of thousands of

160
Stefan Kornelius, Angela Merkel: The Authorized Biography, (Kindle Version, 2014), 169.
161
Ibid., 120.

64
refugees to enter Germany. 162 Meanwhile, in a survey by German public television, 51 percent of

Germans say that they fear the refugee influx, 13 points more than in September. Approval of

Mrs. Merkel dropped by 9 points to her lowest level since 2011. In two other polls Mrs. Merkel

moved from Germany’s most popular politician to fourth. 163 The harshest criticism of Mrs.

Merkel comes from her own conservative party- the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which

she leads, and the Christian Social Union (CSU), which exists only in Bavaria and usually

supports her. Horst Seefhofer, the CSU’s leader and premier of Bavaria, called Mrs. Merkel’s

decision “a mistake that will keep us occupied for a long time.” 164 He added: “We are now in a

state of mind without rules, without system and without order because of Mrs. Merkel’s

decision.” 165

It is clear that Mrs. Merkel is under pressure as never before. However, the previous crisis

made Merkel strong. It is a commonly held opinion that years of crisis are good for chancellors.

Undoubtedly, it is true that Angela Merkel would not have become the unchallenged leading

figure in Europe if this serious of a crisis had not put a burden on European and German

politics. 166 “European policy is domestic policy,” Merkel always says, but she treats it like

classic foreign policy, as the prerogative of the country’s leader. She said so shortly before she

was first elected Chancellor: “Foreign policy is my thing.” 167

This time the refugee crisis has brought out a new style of leadership in her. If, since the

beginning of the euro crisis, she has been accused of following public opinion rather than

guiding it, now she has decided to fight for an issue by demonstrating her firm personal stand

162
«Merkel at her limit,» The Economist, October 10, 2015, http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21672296-
after-historic-embrace-refugees-german-public-opinion-turning-merkel-her-limit.
163
Ibid.
164
Ibid.
165
Kate Connolly, «Merkel under pressure,» The Guardian, October 30, 2015,
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/30/merkel-pressure-refugees-germany-talks-government-divided-crisis.
166
Stefan Kornelius, Angela Merkel: The Authorized Biography, (Kindle Version, 2015), 1250.
167
Ibid., 1087.

65
combined with her moral duty toward refugees. She had saved for so long and carefully

protected her power that she is now likely to spend her political capital. 168

As Stefan Kornelius, author of Angela Merkel: Authorized Biography put it, “Angela

Merkel shows a lot of understanding for people who flee from war and despair. There is no

moral questioning of her motives.” She said “if we start having to apologize for showing a

friendly face in emergencies then this is not my country.” 169 Until then, Merkel had always been

flexible, but she is not flexible when she is under pressure. 170 The Chancellor showed herself as a

cautious, sober decision-maker, when she has no choice but to make bold decisions and stick to

them.

In order to understand such compassion in Merkel’s status to refugee policy, it is important

to be aware of her background and life experiences. As Jennifer A. Yoder notes in her article that

Merkel’s case as an easterner, a Protestant, and a physicist shapes her policy in many aspects.

Human rights are of particular importance to a woman who grew up under communism. During

the summit in Brussels at the end of October, 2015, Merkel turned to Hungarian Prime Minister

Victor Orban, who built a fence around his country, and said: “I lived behind a fence for too long

for me to now wish for those times to return.” 171 The refugee crisis has made clear the fact that

Merkel has found courage to justify her politics with her own biography. As Hackle concludes:

“Merkel is a liberal, she deeply believes in western values of freedom, human rights, democracy.

From personal experience in the former East Germany, she knows the difference between

168
Markus Feldenkirchen, Rene Pfister, “What is driving Angela Merkel?,” Speigel Online, January 25, 2016,
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/why-has-angela-merkel-staked-her-legacy-on-the-refugees-a-
1073705.html.
169
“Germany’s Merkel Under Increasing Pressure to Reduce Refugee Numbers: Ally,” February 1, 2016,
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-germany-merkel-idUSKCN0VA3HU.
170
Markus Feldenkirchen, Rene Pfister, “What is driving Angela Merkel?,” Speigel Online, January 25, 2016,
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/why-has-angela-merkel-staked-her-legacy-on-the-refugees-a-
1073705.html.
171
Ibid.

66
freedom and dictatorship.” 172 As a young girl in school, Angela Merkel’s mature perspective had

already shown the combination of tolerance and open-mindedness: “ I first noticed that others

had difficulties with disabled (sic.) when my classmates reacted with fear whenever they come to

visit me it was always just normal for me. As a child, your abilities grow but only slowly beyond

the abilities of disabled adults.” 173

One of the closest friends of Merkel, Klaus von Dohnanyi, the Social Democrat and former

Hamburg mayor, said that Merkel grew up with the understanding that, if a stranger is standing

in the rain before your door, you let him in and help, and when you let them in, you do not

grimace. Christians do not do that.” 174 Such qualities might fit to her sincere moral duty to help

refugees. Indeed, taking into account the “ugly” past of Germany in the Second World War,

Angela Merkel may now be showing that the exercise of power in today’s world is less based on

military might than on moral humanitarian actions.

Moreover, observes agree that Merkel’s scientific training can also be expected to shape

her style of policy making. Merkel’s decision-making method is characterized by pragmatism

and her ability to recognize the circumstances available to her. 175 Therefore, there are two factors

explaining Germany’s pragmatic leadership in the current refugee question. First, if Angela

Merkel did not take the leading role in solving the problem of refugee distribution, the whole

idea of the EU would be questioned, which might lead to the early transformation of the Union.

As Paul Claudel, a French dramatist and diplomat, put it, “ Germany is not there (in Europe) to

172
Jennifer A Yoder, "An Intersectional Approach to Angela Merkel's Foreign Policy," German Politics 3, no. 20
(2011): 360-75.
173
Jean E Krasno, Personality, Political Leadership, and Decision Making: A Global Perspective (Praeger
Publishers, 2015), 225.
174
Markus Feldenkirchen, Rene Pfister, “What is driving Angela Merkel?,” Speigel Online, January 25, 2016,
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/why-has-angela-merkel-staked-her-legacy-on-the-refugees-a-
1073705.html.
175 Jean E Krasno, Personality, Political Leadership, and Decision Making: A Global Perspective (Praeger

Publishers, 2015), 225.

67
divide nations but to let all the different nations around it feel that they cannot live without one

another.” 176 His main idea was that Germans should not be a dominant power in Europe but they

should explain to their neighbors that only by being together would they have a common united

future. Secondly, being awarded the Charlemagne Prize for EU Leadership for “her decisive

leadership and outstanding contribution to the new momentum within the European Union” in

2008, Angela Merkel has felt a moral duty to put humanitarian issues at the core of her decision-

making. Merkel is clearly sensitive to the notion of “human security” and in that framework to

questions of race, ethnic identity, development, and the denial of human rights. As one principle

of the evangelical parsonage says, one should not value oneself more than other people, no

matter where they come from. In other words, her focus on human dignity has prevailed in her

approach to the current refugee resettlement. 177

Hollande’s “descente aux enfers”

Never in the history of the Fifth Republic, beginning in the 60s, has the president in office

had such a low approval rating. 178 This can be explained by the general atmosphere of

unprecedented chaos currently taking place in France. As John Gaffrey put it, the Hollande

presidency is an acute illustration of the dysfunction of the presidency and political institutions in

the Fifth Republic. 179 In fact, challenges posed by economic failure, immigration, radical Islam

and the absence of bold decisions on the part of the ruling party and its leader to address these

issues has resulted in an increasingly fragmented party system on the one hand, and growing

anxiety or indifference among French voters, on the other hand.

176 Walter Laqueur and Leon Sloss, European Security in the 1990s: Deterrence and Defense after the INF Treaty,
(New York: Plenum Press, 1990).
177
Jean E Krasno, Personality, Political Leadership, and Decision Making: A Global Perspective (Praeger
Publishers, 2015), 227.
178
Helene Fouquet, "Hollande's Popularity Plumbs Record Low in French Opinion Poll," Bloomberg, March 3,
2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-03/hollande-s-popularity-plumbs-record-low-in-french-
opinion-poll.
179
John Gaffrey, France in the Hollande Presidency: The Unhappy Republic (Kindle Version, 2015), 216.

68
Taking into account the fact that the important advent of the Fifth Republic and

functioning of the institutions made the presidency the central actor in the republic, the personal

role of François Hollande in the decision to take on refugee resettlement needs to be analyzed.

The Hollande Era

The first sign that something was going wrong in the country was demonstrated by the

results of the European elections in May 2014. During those elections, both the main French

political parties were being undermined to the extent that their poor rhetoric and ambivalent

discourse on many issues simply encouraged the populist vote. The success of the National Front

in these elections was a clear illustration of the collapse of François Hollande’s legitimacy.

In 2012, Hollande came to power, generally speaking, from relative obscurity. And this

historical irony, as John Gaffrey put it, would not be without consequence. Such a stroke of luck

as a person whose name was not previously familiar to the French, as if by chance, being elected

to the office of the president, would haunt his presidency. 180

After the hectic and incoherent policy style of the preceding administration, the French

welcomed the return to a more measured pace in governing, which was distinguished by greater

reflection and caution. However, the ‘normality’ of Hollande’s presidency has led to a crisis of

his own making; both the Right’s fire and the Left’s anxiety has put the president in a

deadlocked situation where he seems wary of what policy to proceed with. He added ‘normality’

to his way of being, a mode of making politics, but it was abandoned, just after the first year of

his presidency and not replaced by anything truly effective and decisive.

On the part of public support, growing disillusionment, particularly among lower-class

voters, confirmed the arrogant image of a government of “caviar-eating elites” which distanced

180
John Gaffrey, France in the Hollande Presidency: The Unhappy Republic (Kindle Version, 2015), 614.

69
itself from public concerns and proved its inability to implement effective reforms. 181 The

presidential relationship with the public began to collapse into not simply disapproval but also a

kind of growing indifference, as if he was almost not a president. 182

In regards to Hollande’s approach to governing, he has been portrayed through his

perceived inaction. Some explain that he is not doing enough in terms of economic reforms.

Another interpretation is that the mission was impossible from the beginning. Taking into

account the fact that unpopularity has been the usual fate for Presidents since the 1980s and the

general economic and European political context of austerity has prevailed, all this left Hollande

with very little room to actually implement his campaign’s promises. Nevertheless, Hollande

was elected as a policymaker from a hard-left electorate but he has ended up embracing many of

the same policies that were undertaken by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, whether in domestic

or foreign policy, particularly regarding Europe and Germany.

Before he became president, Hollande was characterized as an apparatchik, or even as “the

captain of a pedal boat.” 183 But after his speech in 2012 at Le Bourget, he denounced the

Merkozy pact, fiscal policy of Nicolas Sarkozy, and thus demonstrated apparent boldness and

decisiveness, shredding an image of “vacillating compromiser,” at least for the time of

elections. 184 Thus Hollande’s election in May 2012 made people hope that France would follow

the path of anti-austerity policy. However, after he took office, Hollande implemented extremely

unpopular policies, which characterized him as a leader who tried to look as a humble and

sanguine figure with whom the average French voter could identify. But that turned out to be a

181
Gabriel Goodlife, "France: The Hollande Presidency," In Europe Today: A Twenty-first Century Introduction,
17-51. 5th ed. (Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), 38.
182
John Gaffrey, France in the Hollande Presidency: The Unhappy Republic (Kindle Version, 2015), 433.
183
Arthur Goldgammer, "The Old Continent Creaks." Democracy Journal, no. 37 (Summer 2015).
http://democracyjournal.org/magazine/37/the-old-continent-creaks/.
184
Ibid.

70
weakness of his governance, especially at the time of economic failure, an ineffective welfare

system and poor social policy. Once he was compared to a hapless plumber attempting to

forestall a tsunami. 185 He seemed like a character struggling with a “permanent gale” injured by

a strong wind and rain. 186 Throughout his presidency, his speeches simply became declarations

of intent: what he or the state were going to do rather than what they are doing or had done. 187 At

one point his approval rating reached thirteen percent. 188

Moreover, from Mitterrand, Hollande learned a lesson that to some extent also ruined his

reputation among the French: promises could be made and later broken with impunity. Once he

was elected, Hollande felt free to step away from the course. In this context, Hollande contrasts

with Angela Merkel who, whatever one may think of her policies, seems to be a firm,

determinant politician who takes control over instability and manages not to lose credence

among her party’s voters.

As a leader, Hollande also had the reputation of being a trimmer, one who was constantly

seeking face-saving compromises between the party’s more left-wing and its social-liberal right

rhetoric. As one of his advisers said: “He may be the first French president whose policies are

basically opposed by a majority of his own party.” 189 For example, in April, Martine Aubry, the

Socialist mayor of Lille, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the Franco-German Green leader, signed a

letter, which criticized Hollande’s “market-friendly” reforms, his refugee policies and his

support for a Constitutional amendment that would give authority to take away the French

185
Gabriel Goodlife, "France: The Hollande Presidency," In Europe Today: A Twenty-first Century Introduction,
17-51. 5th ed. (Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), 47.
186
John Gaffrey, France in the Hollande Presidency: The Unhappy Republic (Kindle Version, 2015), 3175.
187
Gabriel Goodlife, "France: The Hollande Presidency," In Europe Today: A Twenty-first Century Introduction,
17-51. 5th ed. (Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), 47.
188
Ibid., 38.
189
Pierre Briancon, "François Hollande’s Season in Hell," The Politico, April 3, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/francois-hollande-season-in-hell-crisis-approval-president-france-criticism/.

71
passport from those who are convicted perpetrators of terror attacks. 190 Laurent Bouvet, an

author of “Cultural Insecurity,” cited earlier, said, “For the first time two different strands of the

Left came together against a sitting Socialist leader.” 191 Given the fact that one of the conditions

of Fifth republic leadership is the relationship between the President and Prime Minister, these

relations became dysfunctional, particularly in the Hollande presidency. For example, Manuel

Valls’ statements, French Prime Minister, added ambiguity to the understanding of the main

course of the party in the question of refugee policy. During his visit to Germany on February

13, Valls had severely denounced Merkel’s refugee policy and opposed any system of refugee

quota, apparently contradicting Hollande’s position on this matter. As for political unity, the

French justice minister, one of the most outspoken voices in the government, resigned and soon

after published a book Murmures a la Jeunesse (Whispers to the Young) denouncing Hollande’s

proposal to strip the citizenship of French-born dual nationals convicted of terrorism. 192 Overall,

instead of mitigating the internal disagreements within his own party and reaching a consensus

on refugee policy, Hollande has seemed to focus on foreign policy to show that he is doing his

job. From the beginning the problem was not just the economic problems or social unrest, there

was a general sense that not only the President does not know what to do in terms of domestic

policy, there was no sense of ‘direction’ at all. 193

190
Pierre Briancon, "François Hollande’s Season in Hell," The Politico, April 3, 2016,
http://www.politico.eu/article/francois-hollande-season-in-hell-crisis-approval-president-france-criticism/.
191
Ibid.
192
Aurelien Breeden, "French Justice Minister Quits Over Plan to Strip Citizenship From Terrorists," The New York
Times, January 27, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/28/world/europe/france-christiane-taubira-justice-
minister-resigns.html.
193 John Gaffrey, France in the Hollande Presidency: The Unhappy Republic, French Politics (Kindle Version,

2015), 2254.

72
German dominance?

Generally speaking, Germany has always played a key role in European integration. A

main feature of post-war German European policy has been, as Paterson calls it, “a leadership

avoidance reflex.” 194 Given the history of the country, it was evident that an exposed leadership

of Germany was seen unacceptable for other EU members. Thus, the tandem with France was

often interpreted as Thomas Paterson calls it, “cooperative hegemony.” 195 But after the euro

crisis Germany has been pushed somewhat reluctantly center stage to become Europe’s reluctant

hegemon. In the euro crisis, the Сhancellor has shown her brutality and coolness by

implementing the austere measures toward Greece. However, in the current crisis she has shown

her unprecedented understanding and compassion. Krasno in his book notes that Angela Merkel

has the dichotomous pattern within her personality, which has eventually shaped a chancellor’s

leadership and decision-making. Angela Merkel describes herself, “I am multifaceted

…yesterday I was mousey, today I am brutal and heartless.” 196

Meanwhile, François Hollande even in his speeches on the refugee crisis has avoided to

engage in a global narrative. Instead he has focused on the exterior problems, without

mentioning France as a country, which would be one among the others who would share the

burden. He has seemed to stay away from proposing any action, which would mean a more

active role for France, whereas Merkel has assured to act in alliance with France. It might be

simply explained by the fact that the current domestic political situation in France is a definite

constraining factor for the President. Some of the key figures from his party have openly

194 William E Paterson, "The Reluctant Hegemon? Germany Moves Centre Stage in the European Union*," JCMS:
Journal of Common Market Studies 49, no. 1 (August 2011): 72.
195
Ibid., 74.
196
Jean E Krasno, Personality, Political Leadership, and Decision Making: A Global Perspective (Praeger
Publishers, 2015), 231.

73
criticized his presidency, including refugee policy, by stressing that French society has already

been in crisis for a long time. Moreover, economic, security and identity concerns make the

public feel exhausted amid the migrations flows. With the unprecedented low rating of the

president’s popularity, the FN has become serious contender for power in the country. Therefore,

taking into account all these factors plus Hollande’s incapacity to normalize domestic concerns

in all levels of French society, he could not afford to take the same amount of refuges as

Germany on the one hand, and could not refuse to take any on the other hand. Hollande was put

in a situation when he had been occupied with internal chaos within the country and he also

understood France’s duty to the EU as well as to Germany.

Conclusion

The idea that the crisis will bring the European continent together no longer seems true.

The only way the EU might work is if it has a strong center. In this context, each member state

needs to give up a part of their domestic sovereignty. Yet, today this crisis has had the opposite

effect, pushing the union toward a break-up as member states vigorously keep their sovereignty,

specifically in the migration question. What we see today are the collapse of an existing order

and the evolution of a new one. While the many different issues are currently at stake, the goal of

this research was to analyze the reasons of different positions that the EU member states adopted.

To make the argument valid, the research was focused on causal domestic factors such as party

politics particularly the rise of the far right, the role of national identity and how it plays into

politics, as well as the role of leaders in decision-making toward refugee distribution and further

regulation. By exploring the possible causal factors affecting the changing positions of two

dominant EU member states, Germany and France, the research concludes that in tackling the

crisis Angela Merkel has relied on her individual policy preferences, which mostly came from

74
her personal beliefs, whereas François Hollande has acted in the context of his weak domestic

position and growing populist backlash in the face of the National Front.

Germany, however, a nation which is still undergoing the formation process, strongly

identifies as ‘Christian-Occidental,’ where Islam has no place. As a country where five percent

of the population is Muslim immigrants, Germany has an even a worse perception of adherents

of non-Christian religions than does the French public. Taking into account that the country has

an issue of religious identity of newcomers, which does not fit into the concept of Germnaness,

the decision to take a million refugees looks at least unprecedented. This time Germany clearly

showed that it could no longer simply isolate itself. Although Angela Merkel is to face domestic

opposition, including attacks with the critics of the members of her own party and rise in support

of far right parties, the Chancellor has made it clear that she is against any fundamental change

of her course in refugee policy. Through her approach in policymaking, Merkel accepted the

shorter-term consequences in face of domestic opposition and chose to tackle the international

crisis in order to avoid longer-term effects. Before the terror attacks in Munich, she had managed

to relieve the domestic pressure through taking such measures as toughening ‘integration law’

and making a deal with Turkey. Overall, compared to France, the backlash does not yet threaten

Merkel’s hold on power. While the National Front has become serious contender for power in

France, far right parties remain marginal in Germany. Moreover, criticism in the coalition of

Merkel’s party will be unlikely to prevail. Mr. Seehofer is popular, but remains an ambiguous

figure. Mr. Shauble is also unlikely to be the next chancellor. Nevertheless, if it has only been

about tactics, Merkel would have abandoned her approach long ago, when the right-wing

populist party AfD began rising in the polls and her own popularity figures began dropping.

Therefore, there must be a different, more personal motivation for her reluctance to change

75
course. She no longer wants to be the woman without a face. As mentioned earlier, having grown

up under the East German communist regime, Merkel has known the feeling of being surrounded

by walls. Besides she has felt responsible for the unity of the EU, she has also felt a moral duty

to put humanitarian issues at the core of her decision-making.

France, with its immigration roots dating back to colonialism, decided to host fewer

refugees and delegate ‘the reins of power’ to Germany in this crisis. The country with around ten

percent of Muslim immigrants has faced an unprecedented number of domestic ‘crises’:

economic stagnation, security threats, an identity issue, growing distrust and even rejection

among the public of the political establishment, and finally, dysfunction of the presidency and

political institutions. All together this has shown an atmosphere of uncontrolled chaos taking

place within the society. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “This is not the time to go wobbly.”

François Hollande though has chosen that kind of tactic in addressing problems. While François

Hollande has lost credence not only among his voters but also among his own party members,

the National Front has managed to get a firmer position through the personal influence of its

leader, networks, new discourse and a generally worsening political environment. The French

President has also tried to balance his refugee policy in order to defend himself from attacks of

the National Front. However, he does not have the same institutional and political power as

Angela Merkel to get back the credence of the public. Taking into account personal failure as a

President and growing anxiety within the country, François Hollande could not afford to share

the burden equally with Germany on the one hand, and could not afford to refuse to take any on

the other hand.

Overall, this thesis demonstrates that the positions of the states have changed throughout

the crisis due to many factors. At first view, Germany and France seemed to work consolidated

76
in tackling the problem of refugees. However, as the crisis went on, each Member State was

immersed in addressing domestic challenges. Obviously, the number of causal factors, which

shape the position of one state, will probably not be the same for another state. The analysis

therefore only serves as a two-country case study, which does not allow for much generalization.

77
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