German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approval rating dropped to the lowest in almost four years in a monthly poll that suggests voters’ welcome for hundreds of thousands of refugees is exhausted.
The share of Germans who are satisfied with Merkel’s handling of her job fell 9 percentage points to 54 percent in the Infratest Dimap poll, the lowest since December 2011, broadcaster ARD said in a statement Friday.
Backing for Horst Seehofer, the Bavarian state premier who has called Merkel’s refugee policy a “mistake,” gained 11 points to 39 percent.
The backlash reflects the political risks of Merkel’s decision to open Germany for war refugees from Syria, which prompted some of her European Union partners and a growing array of domestic allies to accuse her of encouraging the influx of asylum seekers.
After 38 percent of respondents said they were scared of “so many refugees” in September, the number rose to 51 percent in the latest ARD poll.
“This will take time and a lot of patience, and it won’t work with a single solution overnight,” Merkel said in a speech in the eastern city of Halle on Thursday.
Germany expects an estimated 800,000 asylum seekers this year, many of them economic migrants from the Balkans who will eventually be sent home.
As many as 10,000 people per day were arriving in late September, with Bavaria serving as the main entry point. Merkel’s coalition plans to pass legislation by mid-October to speed up expulsions of economic migrants and trim benefits for asylum seekers.
Support for Merkel’s party bloc fell two percentage points to 40 percent while the Social Democrats, her junior coalition partner, was unchanged at 24 percent. Alternative for Germany, an anti-euro party that says Germany faces “asylum chaos” and doesn’t have seats in the national parliament, rose 2 percentage points to 6 percent, according to the poll.
The September 28-29 poll of 1,501 people has a margin of error of as many as 3.1 percentage points.