Germany: Liberals threaten to collapse government over migrant benefit card dispute

By John Cody
3 Min Read

The German coalition government is on increasingly shaky ground, with the Free Democrats (FDP) warning that they could pull out of the three-way left-liberal government if the Green party blocks a new rule mandating benefit cards instead of cash payments to migrants.

While the Greens argue that ending the current cash payments would be discriminatory, the Free Democrats, which are the smallest party in the government, are under pressure to stand up to the pro-migration policies being promoted by the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD).

“If the Greens actually torpedo this minimally invasive intervention in the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, that will raise questions about the continuation of the coalition,” said deputy FDP chairman Wolfgang Kubicki.

The Greens, in turn, say that any push to implement a move away from cash payments would endanger the alliance.

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Local municipalities are already introducing rules to introduce welfare payment cards instead of cash due to the enormous amounts of cash being sent abroad, but there are fears these local laws could soon be challenged by lawyers. Currently, the federal law, the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, stipulates that benefits to migrants are paid out “primarily as a cash benefit.” The FDP wants to change paragraph three of this act to ensure the majority of payments are delivered by card, which is traceable and would prevent the money from flowing out of Germany.

There are also concerns that the cash is being used to buy drugs, prostitutes, and for other illicit purposes.

As Remix News previously reported, the biggest danger to the coalition is the FDP, which has seen its support plummet in recent months. Now, the future of the party is at risk. Nevertheless, the FDP’s fellow coalition parties may be betting that the FDP’s threat is a mere bluff, as any dissolution of the coalition would spark early elections, in which the FDP could face a political reckoning.

Recent elections, including in Berlin, have shown the FDP’s support drop dramatically. In repeat elections in select parts of Berlin, FDP dropped below the 5 percent hurdle, with analysts warning that the election results should serve as a wake-up call to the party.

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