As the most popular destination country for migrants and refugees in the EU since the end of World War II (MPI, 2004), Germany has a history of refugee inflows. In this thesis I focus on the different factors that led to asylum policy change in reunified Germany, from liberal since 1945 to restrictive, after the end of the Cold War in 1992, with the 1992 amendment of Article 16 of the German Basic Law. The study of the factors that account for German asylum policy change is important to understand the future of German asylum policy, and potentially provide a model of asylum policy change in other countries. In this study, I analyze German public opinion that seems to have been affected by large migrant inflows and the declining state of the economy. I argue that electoral pressures by the German public contributed to political party platform changes and asylum policy change. I use data from Eurobaromeer surveys, the World Bank, and the Migration Policy Institute to describe the refugee inflows and the state of the German economy, and how these may have contributed to public opinion, as reflected in Eurobarometer survey results. I examine German political party platforms and campaign tactics based on secondary literature, such as scholarly articles and studies, as well as political speeches and statements. I also consider Germany’s membership in the EU as a factor that may have affected the change in German asylum policy. Germany’s membership in the EU may have been used as a form of leverage by the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), to pressure the Social Democratic Party (SPD), to compromise on asylum policy restrictions, as Germany’s constitutional right to asylum impeded the implementation of EU asylum policy provisions. The findings of my research suggest that German public sentiments may have affected Germany’s political party platforms. Evidently, the SPD, aligned its political platform and policy agenda to align with the changes in the German electoral context and gain electoral support. Also, Germany’s position as a founding member of the EU, may have contributed to the compromise on German asylum policy change, because the right to asylum as explained in Article 16 of the constitution, withheld Germany from utilizing the EU’s asylum procedures and policies, until Article 16 was amended in 1992.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Kinsey, Barbara


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

International and Global Studies


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

December 2016