Leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer has announced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to set a limit on migrants could impact the coalition agreement between their parties.
Mr. Seehofer, who leads the Bavarian CSU, the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU), is heavily in favour of an upper limit. The renewed conflict between the pair could dismantle their longstanding coalition, Suddeutsche Zeitung reports.
The CSU leader stated that the comments made by Ms. Merkel at a regional conference earlier this week in Münster “surprised” him, were “unnecessary”, and were ultimately a “setback” in negotiations. Now that Merkel had brought the issue into the public limelight, Seehofer claimed that his party would hold to their position on having a cap on migrants.
Seehofer has previously threatened to withdraw support from Ms. Merkel and refuse to form a coalition with her party after the federal elections next year should they not come to an agreement on migrant caps. The Bavarian minister president asserted that Merkel lacked the political will to cap the number of migrants entering the country – a move already enacted by neighbouring Austria.
The comments by the CDU leader and chancellor reopen the rift between the two sister parties who have been diverging since the start of the migrant crisis with Seehofer’s party turning more to the right. Earlier this year, the CSU published a policy article which stated that they would like to not only place a cap on migrants but also prioritise Christians and other migrants who support Western values.
The CSU leader has also built bridges with leaders who are directly opposed to Chancellor Merkel including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who he has invited to Bavaria several times during the migrant crisis.
After the election victory of U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump, Seehofer invited him to Bavaria saying: “I like the fact that he addresses people directly and takes their life into account. Not abstract, not blurred, but with concrete answers. I like that.”
Ms. Merkel also faces opposition within her own party as members of the CDU have begun to voice their opposition to her migrant policies ahead of the 2017 election, after seeing the electoral success of the anti-mass Alternative for Germany (AfD).