Who in Germany has broken with democratic practice?

The German Bundestag debated the UN migration pact

by Karl Müller

Petitions to the Bundestag were not made public

km. In recent weeks, 19 petitions on the UN migration pact have been submitted to the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag. Usually petitions are published so that others can join in with their signatures on the internet. This is not the case for petitions to the UN migration pact. The “Berliner Zeitung“ wrote on 7 November 2018:
“[...] none of them will be published. This was decided by the secretariat of the Committee on Petitions. [...] Some of the 19 petitions had to be rejected for factual reasons, but most were not. One of the texts is available to the ‘Berliner Zeitung‘. Every migration policy needs a democratic legitimation‘, it says. The Bundestag should vote on the migration pact. But even this text was rejected. The Bundestag wrote as justification that petitions of this kind were ‘likely to burden intercultural dialogue‘. The mere discussion about immigration is thus referred to as a dangerous disturbance.
On Wednesday, the majority of the petition committee supported this censorship. The AfD made an appeal to publicise one of the petitions. Even the CDU shows an opposition to the migration pact as well. […] The migration pact was boycotted by the USA. Australia, Poland, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Denmark have already bailed out. There is a lot of discussion everywhere. Only not in the German Bundestag. Here the debate is presented as a danger to ‘intercultural dialogue‘ and prevented.“

Source: https://www.bz-berlin.de/berlin/kolumne/bundestag-zensiert-petitionen-der-buerger-zum-Uno-migrationspakt vom 7 November 2108

(Translation Current Concerns)

On 8 November 2018 the German Bundestag, upon request of the AfD faction, debated three applications regarding the UN Global Pact for Migration (cf. Current Concerns No 25 of 14 November 2018 https://www.zeit-fragen.ch/en/numbers/2018/no-25-12-november-2018/the-un-global-compact-for-migration-shows-the-urgency-of-the-self-determination-initiative.html) –one each by the AfD, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen for one hour. On reading the parliament protocol, three points catch the eye:

  1. The AfD faction opposes German participation in the Migration Pact.
  2. All speakers of the other factions support the German approval of the Migration Pact, albeit partially with contradicting claims.
  3. The verbal insults of all other parties represented in the parliament against the AfD members of parliament reached a high level. On 8 November they included “conspiracy theorists”, “liar”, “racist”, “völkisch”, “extremist right-wing”, “shabby” or “like a physician poisoning his patients”. Keep in mind: The attacks against the AfD imply attacks against millions of German citizens – polls have shown that the Migration Pact is highly controversial also among German citizens. There is a vast amount of gleichschaltung among public dealings with the AfD, its members, sympathisers and voters. In Germany there is hardly anyone who is neither close to the AfD nor stirring up public opinion against this party and who raises his voice to call for democratic virtues. We may justly ask the question: Who in Germany has broken with democratic practice?

Regarding the content of the debate in the Bundestag, the following points were relevant:

  1. Among the proponents, the assessments of the consequences of the UN migration pact are highly divergent. Speakers of the CDU/CSU faction claimed that Germany was already fulfilling all commitments of the pact and the benefit would be that upon acceptance of the pact, all other signatory states would also fulfil the commitments, thus reducing migration pressure on Germany. Speakers of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen saw this differently. For them, acceptance of the pact by Germany would imply that the migrants serging towards or already living in Germany finally receive all the “rights” they are entitled to, i.e., Germany would become more attractive for migrants. Who is right? Additionally it must be permitted to question the speakers of the CDU/CSU faction to comment the point brought up by the independent member of parliament Frauke Petry: “So if the pact is meant to foster the implementation of human rights in all those countries where they do not work today, please explain the citizens why this pact should be successful in places where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights failed.”
  2. In contrast to the AfD speakers all other speakers emphasised that the Pact was legally non-binding and each state would maintain its sovereignty in questions of migration. Indeed, the text of the Pact characterises itself as a “non-legally binding cooperative framework”. At the same time the 32 tightly written pages contain many “commitments” for the signatory states including a myriad of details. Why the effort to stipulate all these details if the result is meant to be non-binding? The claim that sovereignty would remain untouched might be a similar attempt of deception. Indeed, the draft for the Pact states that it reaffirms “the sovereign right of states to determine their own migration policies...”, but in the same sentence it states that this applies only “in accordance with international law”. Also, the next, very long, clause of the draft ends with the condition that everything must be “in accordance with international law”. The international law mentioned here is not the peremptory international law (cf. Current Concerns No 24 of 5 November 2018) but in general any international law, that means, any kind of international agreements. What about the sovereignty of states as soon as the content of the Pact has become “international law”?
           Revealing was the statement of the CDU politician Stephan Herbarth. At the very beginning of his speech he said: “After the catastrophe of World War II Germany decided to approach the great challenges of our time in an international way [...]. Our military security is organised in an alliance with many nations; our economy is organised internationally; our environmental protection is organised internationally and we will be able to cope with the challenges of migration only through an international approach.”
  3. How can the contradictory attitude of Die Linke faction be understood? Its speakers argued in favour of accepting the Pact. At the same time Sevim Dagdelen of Die Linke stated: “By the way, none of the points important to us as Linke have been incorporated [into the Pact]. Thus it is clear that the Migration Pact is not about combating the causes of the exodus. Neither a ban on arms exports nor a stop of the destructive free trade agreements with the southern nations has been adopted. People are leaving their homes, but not voluntarily. They also have a right not to leave. [...] The voices of the African and Latin American states demanding to tackle the reasons and to finance economic development in the countries of origin have not been heard in New York. Justifiably these countries have criticised the focus on – quote – utilisation of ‘human capital’ – unquote – for the wealthy North. They asked for global justice but what they received is a brain drain, the loss of their skilled professionals. This brain drain on behalf of the profit of the large corporations eventually is serving to dispossess the southern nations. I find this neo-liberal utilitarian thinking cynical.”                •

Critique on UN migration pact comes from different sides in Germany

km. Boris Palmer, green mayor of the German city of Tübingen am Neckar and time and again an unconventional thinker in his party, though not fundamentally against it, also has taken up a critical position with a longer Facebook entry regarding the proposed UN migration pact. Criticism of this pact comes also from within the ranks of the CDU and CSU.

Green Mayor Boris Palmer: “Do not sign migration pact”

Boris Palmer writes that after an event in Baden-Baden he “forced himself to read the original document. To me at first it seemed completely unproblematic. The goals are all traceable and correct. I want the international community to jointly fight the causes of fleeing and to help in times of emergency. But when I tried to refute the objections expressed in right-wing circles, I came across many problems for which there were no answers. The document is very difficult to understand and not to interpret unambiguously. Here I would have needed help from professionals. There is nothing to find on the internet. [...]
For the first time you can now read, in German, the withdrawal of Austria in an expert opinion written for the Austrian Federal Government in which [...] many doubts are justified. The main problem: immigration and asylum are conceptually not always cleanly separated. What one would always support for fleeing from war and persecution is often unacceptable for immigration into the labour market. Example: The goal of guaranteeing a legal entry to a safe haven for people fleeing a war can only be deemed false by a brute. However, for a migrant worker, a right to a safe border crossing does not exist.
Even the initially convincing argument that the pact only demands what has long been standard in Germany, is unfortunately not viable. That is not true for all cases because of the unclear definition of migration. Some of the demands are so malleable that debates may begin soon, that this or that restriction on asylum seekers is not allowed because of the pact. In fact, a great deal of international law works according to the principle of “soft law”, which means that although the text does not state that it is legally binding, it will become binding due to political pressure and courts over time. [...]
At the present time, I consider the signature of the Federal Government wrong for two reasons: First, too many points contain a lack of clarity. These points must first be clarified. Secondly, without a clarifying debate, a signature would massively increase doubts about our state, our democracy and our media in large parts of the population [...].“

(Source: https://www.facebook.com/ob.boris.palmer/posts/2136395966399924)

Opponents of UN migration pact within CDU form up

The Berlin “Tagesspiegel” reported on 13 November 2018, that the opponents of the international migration agreement are forming in the CDU: “The so-called ‘Berlin circle’, a group of conservative MPs, who will reject the UN migration pact, if it results in obligations for Germany. The members of the circle want to make their consent dependent on the fact that the Federal Government attaches to the pact a unilateral declaration in which obligations are excluded from the content for Germany. [...] Arnold Vaatz (CDU), faction deputy of the Union and Marian Wendt (CDU), Chairman of the Petitions Committee in the Bundestag, also belong to the Berlin Circle. [...]
The “value union”, which is in close contact with the Berlin Circle, has now announced a ‘nationwide signature campaign’ against the migration pact within the Union. From the bottom-up of the party, the ‘value union’ also wants to increase the pressure on the Union faction to agree to the pact only, if it is ensured that no additional obligations arise.”

(Source: “Der Tagesspiegel” from 13 November 2018)

CSU politician Silke Launert sees the dangers of the migration
The Upper Franconian CSU Bundestag member and former prosecutor Silke Launert advocated in vain on 6 November 2018 during a parliamentary group meeting of CDU/CSU for a vote on the UN migration pact. As a former prosecutor, she was very aware of the dangers of immigration and could not approach it naïvely. The risks, from crime to social structures, was not discussed at all within the UN pact, according to Launert.
“If we want fewer people to come to our country because we have to integrate them first, we need signals that not everyone can come,” said the former prosecutor. “I fear that the migration pact will even encourage migration. Migrants must be informed at all stages of their fleeing about how to legally enter Germany,” Launert continued. “There may be a soothing effect. That is the danger. Although I also see that there are many good approaches in it.“
She was disappointed that her voice on migration has never been heard within the group over the last three years. The more she cares about the migration pact, which has even greater negative consequences. “Unfortunately, everything that I have said occurred, and I am afraid that I am right again,” says Launert.
In this question the mood in the group is split. Half of the group is for it, the other against it. In a secret vote, the chances of rejecting the pact would be even greater, according to the politician. “Ultimately, the discussion has now flared up. I hope that now more members read through the UN migration pact and yet again talk with practitioners, “says the CSU politician.

(Source: https://www.epochtimes.de/meinung/liebeserklaerung-an-migranten-kommentator-steingart-und-csu--politikerin-launert-ueber-die-gefahren-des-un-migrationspakts-a2704429.html  from 11 November 2018)

(Translation Current Concerns)