German vice chancellor turns against Merkel's optimism on migration

Germany's vice-chancellor has further distanced himself from the migration policies of coalition ally Chancellor Angela Merkel, telling German broadcaster ZDF that her party has "underestimated the challenge."

"We have always said it's unimaginable for Germany to take in a million people every year," Gabriel, who leads the Social Democrat Party (SPD), said in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday night.

Gabriel criticized Merkel over her repeated use of the motivational slogan "We can do it," saying that this was not enough.

"Instead we should be setting the right conditions so we can actually manage this," Gabriel said, adding that his coalition allies in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Socialist Union (CSU) had repeatedly blocked such efforts.

Merkel first used the slogan at the height of the migration crisis as thousands of refugees were making their way to Germany every day.

According to a poll in July, 48 per cent of Germans said they disagreed with Merkel's "we can do it" sentiment, while the head of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has also rejected the slogan.

Meanwhile, Germany's Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) says it is expecting far fewer asylum seekers than in 2015.

"We are preparing for 250,000 to 300,000 refugees this year," Frank-Juergen Weise, the head of the office, told the Sunday edition of the Bild daily.

Wiese said his office could work optimally with this amount of refugees, but that a further increase would cause significant pressure and a repeat of the poor conditions witnessed last year.

Last update: Sun, 28/08/2016 - 14:39
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