The day before Germany’s “Super Sunday” elections that are expected to severely test Angela Merkel’s popularity, the chancellor launched a passionate defence of her migrant policy.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats have been losing support over her decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees – and to keep them open.
“If someone really is fleeing from war, terror, ISIL and hardship he must get protection among us,” she told a rally of her CDU party in Baden-Württemberg, one of the three states voting on Sunday.
But she added a word of warning to others: “So it’s all the more important that we succeed in sending back those who are not coming from war and hardship but for economic reasons. That we tell them: you have to leave our country again.”
Applause from her supporters, but many in Germany wonder how the country can cope with a crisis that saw over a million migrants arrive last year.
The anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is tipped to benefit in Sunday’s poll.
Saturday saw demonstrations for and against refugees in Berlin.
An estimated 2,000 far-right demonstrators marched in the capital calling on Merkel to resign.
Elsewhere anti-fascist protesters chanted “Nazis out”. Police kept the rival groups apart.