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Germany as ‘a country of integration’? The CDU/CSU’s policies and discourses on immigration during Angela Merkel’s Chancellorship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
Accepted/In press19 Nov 2020


King's Authors


This article analyses the CDU/CSU’s immigration policies and discourses during the Chancellorship of Angela Merkel. In doing so, it makes four observations. First, the article highlights that the CDU/CSU became proactive when it came to passing new and far-reaching immigration and integration legislation. Second, it is argued that these policies have sent conflicting messages, torn between the opening and closing of Germany’s borders, and between welcoming diversity and demanding cultural assimilation. Third, this article identifies and explains six ways in which the parties have framed immigration in their common election manifestos from 2005-2017: as a cultural, economic, security, humanitarian, European, and gendered issue. Fourth, this study analyses the intra-party divisions that came to a head during the migration crisis: the place of Islam in Germany and the creation of a cap on the number of refugees that Germany would take in. Here, it is highlighted that in contrast to Merkel, the CSU, but also parts of the CDU, have called for more restrictive immigration policies and cultural assimilation. These findings are explained with reference to the political context: the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany and the 2018 Bavarian regional elections.

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