World News

Fact Check: Trump’s Tweet About Germany

Posted June 18, 2018 6:44 p.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2018 6:49 p.m. EDT

BERLIN — President Donald Trump castigated the German government Monday for its open-door policy toward migrants, saying that it was responsible for an increase in crime and could conceivably lead to the downfall of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” Trump wrote. “Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

Here are some of Trump’s assertions on Twitter and fact checks of those statements.

— ‘Crime in Germany Is Way Up’

False.

Crime statistics for 2017 showed the lowest level of crime in Germany in 25 years, according to figures released in May by the federal criminal office.

Although there have been attacks by militants aligned with the Islamic State, as well as high-profile murders and assaults by migrant men, the statistics refute Trump’s suggestion.

Not only was the overall crime rate down 5.1 percent over the previous year, violent crime (down 2.4 percent) and property theft (an 11.8 percent decrease) both dropped.

So-called street crime was down by 8.6 percent. In cases where a suspect had been identified, crimes committed by non-Germans were down by 2.7 percent, while crimes committed by Germans fell 2.2 percent.

Fraud (up 1.3 percent), computer fraud (a 2.8 percent increase) and drug offenses (9.2 percent higher) all rose, but the number of illegal border crossings dropped 79.9 percent.

— Germans Are ‘Turning Against Their Leadership’

Misleading.

Migration is at the heart of the political crisis in Germany — the country is struggling to absorb more than 1 million migrants — and threatens to tear apart the governing coalition led by Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union.

The issue has weakened Merkel and her party, contributing to an environment in which far-right groups have flourished. But there are no clear indicators that the German people as a whole have turned against the government.

It is true that the country’s mainstream parties — the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and the Christian Social Union — have lost votes since Merkel introduced her open-door policy in 2015. But, together, they still accounted for more than 53 percent of the vote in elections last September. And even as she has come under heavy criticism, Merkel remains the country’s most popular politician.

The reason for the political crisis is a split in Merkel’s coalition. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union, is facing elections in Bavaria against the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD.

Although the AfD’s level of support in polls is only about 15 percent, Seehofer wants to stem the party’s momentum and protect his flank on the political right.

Before a state election in Bavaria in October, Seehofer is demanding that the government tighten its policy on accepting migrants who arrive in Germany through another European Union country. Merkel has resisted, since the change would violate EU law.

— Migration Has ‘Strongly and Violently’ Changed European Culture

Needs more context.

There’s little doubt the huge wave of migration that began to hit Europe in 2015 has placed enormous strains on European unity, with leaders and officials unable to come up with a practical and cohesive strategy to deal with the influx of a mostly Muslim migrant population.

The tensions have been visible in various forms:

— Migration played a crucial role in the decision by British voters to withdraw from the European Union, known as Brexit.

— The facilities used to house migrants arriving in Greece, a common landing point for many migrants, are often dangerous and decrepit.

Most recently, Italy, which now includes a right-wing, anti-immigrant party as part of its governing coalition, refused to accept a boat carrying more than 600 migrants; it was eventually taken in by Spain.

And yet, there is little to support Trump’s declaration that migration has “strongly and violently” changed European culture. It has certainly changed European politics, though.