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. Last night talks between the two sides, as well as Bavarian Prime Minister Marcus Soderham, Prime Minister of Hesse Volker bouffier ended inconclusively.
Merkel was due to hold a “crisis meeting” on Wednesday evening with top officials from her Christian Democratic Union and its CSU Bavarian sister party, which wants Germany to turn away at the border migrants registered in other EU states. Angela Merkel won September elections, albeit without majority enough to form a government, forcing her to form a fragile coalition, in which very diverse political aspirations coexist.
According to Bild, Mr. Seehofer and Mrs. Merkel had disagreed over the idea of returning migrants to the border if they had been refused asylum in other nations or had applied for asylum in more than one European Union member state.
Merkel believes that Berlin should not take unilateral asylum measures and argues that a measure affecting free movement in EU must be adopted in Brussels, particularly at forthcoming European Council on 28 June.
“I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe”, Kurz told reporters at a convivial news conference with Seehofer, in marked contrast with a far more formal exchange he had with Merkel late Tuesday.
The CSU’s Alexander Dobrindt insisted Seehofer has the authority to order police to turn back the migrants – a potential act of open defiance that would force Merkel to fire him, sparking coalition chaos.
On Wednesday, Merkel called immigration “a litmus test for Europe” that necessitated “a truly unified approach”.
“From my point of view, it would be ideal to secure the external borders of the European Union”, Seehofersaid after the meeting with Kurz.
Since 2015, Europe has been struggling to cope with the effects of an influx of refugees, with hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war and social crises in the Middle East and Africa.
Soeder says his party, which is fearful of losing voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany in the Bavarian election on October 14, wants to “put the needs of our population center-stage”. In an interview with the Guardian, Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, a former president of the European parliament, said Europe had to find agreement over the way to take in asylum seekers.
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. Anti-immigration movements are now in or leading governments in countries including Italy, Austria and Hungary.