German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced no little amount of trouble in cobbling together a coalition government just a few months ago. Now that coalition is under threat. The issue that has divided Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its coalition partner: migration.

It is a fraught issue in the European Union (EU) at large. Countries such as Italy and Austria are leaning towards a harsher response to the refugee crisis. Central European nations like Poland and Slovakia are even more discontented. The days of European largesse towards refugees, led by Germany, are over.

This is, at its core, as fundamental a question about the nature and future of the EU as the contours of the monetary union. Hungary’s flame-thower of a prime minister, Viktor Orban, has denounced the very idea of multiculturalism. His characterizing Muslim refugees as invaders is malicious and dangerous. But plainly, there are many in Europe who share at least some of his doubts about multiculturalism. It is a reminder that even in developed liberal democracies, leaders must account for the fact that cultural identity matters.

My Reads Logout