Migrant Crisis Could Sink Merkel as Populists Boycott EU Summit, Italy Threatens to Vote Down Migrant Deal

FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images
FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images

Anti-mass migration national leaders in Central Europe and Italy are openly defying Germany’s Angela Merkel, who is facing political oblivion amid an asylum scandal and threats by Bavarian conservatives to walk out of her coalition government.

The German chancellor was crowned the new leader of the free world by the mainstream media after Donald Trump ascended to the presidency of the United States on an anti-globalist platform, but has been stumbling from crisis to catastrophe ever since.

This began with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party posting its worst result since 1949 in the 2017 federal elections, forcing her to form a so-called ‘grand coalition’ with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) opposition.

Historically the European Union’s dominant member-state in partnership with France, Germany is now struggling to exert control over the rising populist, nationalist, and traditional conservative governments of Central Europe and now Italy.

With the “tenuous Berlin coalition” — as President Trump recently described it — already reeling from revelations that officials have apparently been accepting bribes in exchange for giving migrants asylum, Merkel now stands on the precipice, with the Christian Social Union which acts as the Bavarian wing of the CDU threatening to walk out of government if she refuses to tighten border controls.

She was able to forestall a showdown by having the European Union call a mini-summit on migration — but has been openly defied by the pro-borders Visegrad alliance (Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland), who suggested they were not willing to bail her out of her current difficulties.

“We understand there are domestic political difficulties in some countries but that cannot lead to pan-European haste,” said Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, the bloc’s ad hoc leader.

“We understand that there will… be a mini-summit on Sunday, but we would like to state clearly that the prime ministers of the V4 agreed that they will not go to that.”

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki concurred with the Hungarian, saying they had all looked over the European Commission’s proposals for the summit and were not interested in them.

Austria, now led by a conservative-nationalist coalition led by Sebastian Kurz and Hans Christian-Stache, also attended the most recent V4 summit, and has been critical of Merkel’s migration policies — although stopped short of joining the boycott.

Italy’s new populist coalition very nearly did, after it emerged that Merkel was seeking to make it easier to push migrants back to the first EU countries they arrived in — usually Italy, Greece, or Spain — as an alternative to giving in to the Bavarian demands for stronger controls on the German border.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini indicated he would “save the money” for a trip to sign an agreement “already written by the French and the Germans” and would not accept proposals which would increase the pressure on Italy.

“Either there is a useful proposal on the defence of borders, security, and on the rights of true refugees or we dare to say no,” he warned.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed that he had “confirmed to [Merkel] that it would be unacceptable for me to attend this summit with a pre-written text” after she put in a desperate private phone call to assure Italy’s attendance, promising the previous text had been shelved.

“We are a sovereign state, an EU country on equal footing with the others… Italy is standing tall,” commented Luigi Di Maio, Salvini’s Co-Deputy Prime Minister.

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