The era of Angela Merkel may be coming to an end as longstanding disagreements on migration policies between her and her Bavarian allies threaten to come to a head and potentially unseat the German leader, who has been at the country’s helm since 2005.
The coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by Chancellor Merkel and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) led by interior minister Horst Seehofer is in crisis over differences on mass migration.
The CSU under Seehofer has demanded that Germany should be able to reject migrants at the border of the countryi f they have no identity papers, are registered in another country, or have been refused refugee status previously, but Merkel believes turning them away udermine the EU’s open borders Schengen Area.
The Bavarian has threatened to use his powers as interior minister to order the border is secured unlitaterally — a move which would likely result in Merkel moving to sack him, the CSU walking out of government, and her fragile ‘grand coalition’ unravelling.
Germany is currently admitting around 11,000 asylum seekers every month, according to The Times.
Bavarian Leader: We’ll Bypass Merkel and Deport Failed Asylum Seekers on Our Own https://t.co/q9nexGZNg8
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 5, 2018
Disagreements on asylum and migration policy between Seehofer and Merkel are nothing new, with Seehofer previously demanding an upper limit of 200,000 migrants per year and even threatening not to campaign with Merkel and the CDU over the issue in late 2016.
Since then, the rise of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) to becoming the official opposition to the current grand coalition government in the Bundestag has seen the CSU react by embracing a tougher line on mass migration and champion more conservative social issues, even ordering crosses be put up in government buildings to assert Bavaria’s “cultural identity.”
One of the main considerations for the CSU in the near-term is the looming Bavarian elections scheduled for October of this year. Traditionally, the CSU has managed to form a majority on its own, but the rise of the AfD has sapped away support, leaving the CSU with around 40 percent of the vote according to current polls.
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.
In the past Chancellor Merkel has been able to dismiss concerns from the CSU but her position as much weaker following one of the worst election results the CDU has ever seenin last year’s national election.
German media have painted a grave picture for the future of Chancellor Merkel, with the Mannheimer Morgen writing that she “has been plucked like a hen after slaughter,”and that her power now merely existed on paper.