German government teetering on collapse over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies

German government teetering on collapse over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies

Cheryl Sanders
June 16, 2018

Germany's ruling coalition remains in a state of heightened suspense over a growing dispute on refugee policy between Angela Merkel and her interior minister that could yet bring down the fledgling government. About 1.4 million entered the country in the wake of her decision and while the flow has slowed, around 10,000 continue to stream in each month.

According to German newspaper Die Welt, the current tough stance on mass migration by Seehofer is popular in Bavaria and could explain the party taking the position to try and drive votes back from the AfD.

Ms. Merkel's weekend decision to veto a plan by her interior minister aimed at controlling and reducing illegal migration-and the minister's refusal to back down-has shattered an uneasy truce between conservative backers and opponents of her liberal asylum policy. But that would also lead to the collapse of her government, which has been in power for less than 100 days, and would nearly inevitably end her chancellorship.

At issue is one measure in a 63-point action plan by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer -one that would instruct border police to turn back migrants found to have applied for asylum in other countries of the European Union's border-free area.

Merkel is now locked in a showdown with her interior minister and frenemy Horst Seehofer, head of the Christian Social Union, which governs with Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats.

She wants a new deal at European Union level over migrants. Among them are many refugees from the Syria war and other conflict zones.

Merkel can draw some comfort from the positive reception her compromise got among CDU lawmakers, many of whom had this week voiced at least some support for Seehofer's plan. But she's still under pressure from her own party to strengthen migration policy and they'll expect her to find her long-promised co-ordinated European Union solution.

In the tense stand-off, an unnamed CSU lawmaker threatened that the party could end its seven-decade-old parliamentary unity with the CDU, reported the regional Augsburger Allgemeine daily.

Merkel's insistence on an EU-wide agreement has the backing for now of the third party in her coalition, the Social Democratic Party.

Seehofer's CSU faces a state election in October in which it must square off against the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

In a highly unusual move, a session of the lower house, the Bundestag, was interrupted to allow the CDU and the CSU to meet separately on the issue.

Both Austria and Italy have seen parties with strong anti-migrant policies come to power since 2015, when Europe experienced a sharp rise in the number of people seeking shelter from conflicts and economic hardship elsewhere in the world.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Germany would not be able to meet its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending obligation until well after 2024.

Mr Seehofer is pushing for the creation of new "anchor centres" to hold asylum seekers until their right to stay is determined.

Other reports by iNewsToday