In Merkel migrant row, Germans back tough policies

Minnie Murray
June 15, 2018

Over the past few days, reports have been circulating in the media that the coalition between the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is on the brink of collapse because of the differences on the German migration policy.

The ruling coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) has 399 seats, but without the CSU that would fall to 353 - less than a majority.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the USA runs a trade surplus with Europe when services are included, marshaling a rebuff to President Donald Trump's sustained criticism of German exports.

Soeder and his party colleague Horst Seehofer - Germany's interior minister - want to send police to the border to turn back migrants who have registered as refugees in other European countries.

Germany's DPA news agency reported that Seehofer had told his party that he was prepared to defy Merkel if necessary and go ahead with his plans. She argues doing this could lead to other countries following suit and that a European-wide solution is needed.

The CSU - which faces an election threat from the AfD in October state polls - has refused to budge and set Merkel an effective ultimatum of next Monday. "Germany can not wait endlessly for Europe, but must act independently", said Bavaria's hardline premier Markus Soeder. In the 709-seat Bundestag (lower house) the CDU has 200 seats and the CSU 46.


Merkel's party signaled Thursday that they may be edging toward a solution, saying in a statement that people whose asylum applications have already been rejected by Germany should be turned away if they try to re-enter.

Mr Seehofer wants Germany to turn away all asylum seekers who arrive at its borders without identification papers. The centrists in Germany have also suffered historically poor results, with the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) forming the biggest opposition party in parliament. Then Merkel agreed to keep Germany's borders open, allowing nearly a million refugees to enter Germany amid dispute and disarray across Europe as many governments refused to cooperate.

The German leader also reiterated that said she is not ready to "give up on G7" but at the same time would seek dialogue with Russian Federation and try to "work very closely" with Japan, Canada, India and China.

Merkel can draw some comfort from the positive reception her compromise got among CDU lawmakers, many of whom had earlier this week voiced at least some support for Seehofer's plan.

But Merkel really is scrambling to hold together her conservative alliance while she pushes other European Union member states to show more solidarity on the issue of distributing refugees. New right-wing leaders in neighboring Austria and Italy are pushing anti-immigration agendas, populist parties have gained ground across the European Union, and Merkel can't even rely on her conservatives to back her at home. A CDU source said after the meeting that the chancellor had told lawmakers she was aware that two weeks was an ambitious timetable to achieve this. "Staging such a drama to serve regional elections are not appropriate", said SPD leader Andrea Nahles.

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