German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is considering setting a flexible limit on the number of migrants allowed into the country each year.
In 2015, as the migrant crisis gathered pace, Mrs. Merkel told the German people there was “no limit” to the number of migrants she was prepared to allow into Germany annually.
The possible change in policy follows a similarly stark shift in rhetoric from the chancellor towards mass migration and Islam in the past months – after her party suffered losses to the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in local elections and Mrs. Merkel prepares to stand for a fourth term as chancellor later this year.
The CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has also been pressuring for change, and the chancellor will need their support to win power this year.
The CSU is advocating a 200,000 limit, which has been rejected by Mrs. Merkel in favour of a less rigid “breathing benchmark”.
CSU MP Stephan Mayer and his colleague Armin Schuster of the CDU wrote in a letter to the chancellor and CSU leader Horst Seehofer that “the proposal envisages a concept for the establishment of a ‘breathing’ benchmark for the possible admission of people in need of protection in Germany”.
“I believe it is in the interests of both the CDU and CSU sister parties that we enter the federal election campaign united,” Mr. Mayer told CSU members at an annual retreat, according to Die Welt.
At the beginning of December, the chancellor shocked many by announcing she believes the full Islamic face veil, or “burqa”, has no place in her country and should be banned.
A few months previously, the chancellor’s party had their worst election result ever in the famously liberal capital of Berlin. The AfD, by contrast, saw huge gains in the city, receiving just under 15 per cent of the vote.