Merkel may not survive row over refugees

Just three months after German chancellor Angela Merkel's shaky coalition government took office, her hold on power is being threatened by a fight over refugees.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) is at odds with its major coalition partner, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), over refugee issues.  The CSU in Bavaria is on the front lines of the refugee crisis, and its decades-long hold on power in the state is being challenged by the anti-migrant Alliance for Germany (AfD) party.  The CSU is worried that upcoming local elections will be a disaster for the party unless the national government strengthens its stand against unfettered migration to Germany.

So far, Merkel isn't budging.  This could lead to a collapse of the coalition and the end of Merkel's chancellorship.

Reuters:

"I believe (Merkel) will try to the very end to find unity in the matter," said CDU home affairs spokesman Mathias Middelberg.  Asked if the alliance with the CSU could shatter, he told Deutschlandfunk radio: "That can't be fully ruled out."

Bavaria was on the frontline of a migration crisis in 2015, when an 'open door' policy adopted by Merkel led to around a million refugees flooding into Germany.

Many conservatives held that policy responsible for a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), the main opposition party since national elections in September.

CSU Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, whose party faces a regional election in October, now wants Germany to refuse entry to migrants who have already registered in countries further south, a plan that Merkel opposes.

Bavarian CSU premier Markus Soeder – widely considered to want to wrest the CSU party chairmanship from Seehofer – stood by that proposal on Friday.  "We have to listen to the people," he told mass-circulation daily Bild.

A poll for broadcaster ARD published on Thursday found that 62 percent of Germans believed refugees without papers should not be allowed in.

Veteran CSU politician Hans-Peter Friedrich was optimistic the dispute would be settled, telling broadcaster RTL there was agreement on 62 of the 63 points in Seehofer's plan, adding: "There's still a problem on one point but we'll manage it."

An indication of how jittery German political nerves have frayed, a Twitter hoax announcing the end of Merkel's government went viral before the rumor could be put to rest.

A Twitter hoax has sparked chaos in Germany after claiming Angela Merkel's coalition had fallen apart.  

Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) was forced to deny it planned to dissolve its decades-old alliance with the Chancellor's Christian Democrats.

The post on a hoax Twitter account came as Merkel holds tense negotiations with her coalition partners over immigration in a stand-off that could ultimately cost her job. 

Hardline CSU  interior minister Horst Seehofer wants Germany to unilaterally impose tougher migration controls, while Merkel fears that will further divide the EU and wants to coordinate controls through Brussels.

All of this is playing out against a backdrop of a collapsing consensus in the E.U. regarding refugees.  Italy's new government recently refused to give permission to a boat full of refugees to dock, setting off bitter recriminations with France and the rest of the E.U.:

Italy summoned France's envoy on Wednesday and demanded an apology from President Emmanuel Macron, who had said Rome's move to block a migrant rescue ship from its ports was an act of "cynicism and irresponsibility".

Macron, in a phone call late on Wednesday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said he did not mean to offend "Italy and the Italian people", according to a statement.

The two leaders confirmed a lunch meeting on Friday to discuss "new initiatives" on immigration, a day after Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced an "axis" with Germany and Austria to fight illegal migration.

"France does not want escalation; it's counter productive.  We need to maintain dialogue," a source close to Macron said as the president visited the western town of Rochefort.  However, the source added that Macron was not "taking back anything".

Populist, nationalist, and anti-migrant political parties have been on the rise for the last five years as governments in the E.U. refuse to listen to ordinary citizens and their fears of being inundated by foreigners.  In Germany, that failure to heed warnings from voters may end up consigning Angela Merkel to an ignominious end.

Just three months after German chancellor Angela Merkel's shaky coalition government took office, her hold on power is being threatened by a fight over refugees.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) is at odds with its major coalition partner, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), over refugee issues.  The CSU in Bavaria is on the front lines of the refugee crisis, and its decades-long hold on power in the state is being challenged by the anti-migrant Alliance for Germany (AfD) party.  The CSU is worried that upcoming local elections will be a disaster for the party unless the national government strengthens its stand against unfettered migration to Germany.

So far, Merkel isn't budging.  This could lead to a collapse of the coalition and the end of Merkel's chancellorship.

Reuters:

"I believe (Merkel) will try to the very end to find unity in the matter," said CDU home affairs spokesman Mathias Middelberg.  Asked if the alliance with the CSU could shatter, he told Deutschlandfunk radio: "That can't be fully ruled out."

Bavaria was on the frontline of a migration crisis in 2015, when an 'open door' policy adopted by Merkel led to around a million refugees flooding into Germany.

Many conservatives held that policy responsible for a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), the main opposition party since national elections in September.

CSU Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, whose party faces a regional election in October, now wants Germany to refuse entry to migrants who have already registered in countries further south, a plan that Merkel opposes.

Bavarian CSU premier Markus Soeder – widely considered to want to wrest the CSU party chairmanship from Seehofer – stood by that proposal on Friday.  "We have to listen to the people," he told mass-circulation daily Bild.

A poll for broadcaster ARD published on Thursday found that 62 percent of Germans believed refugees without papers should not be allowed in.

Veteran CSU politician Hans-Peter Friedrich was optimistic the dispute would be settled, telling broadcaster RTL there was agreement on 62 of the 63 points in Seehofer's plan, adding: "There's still a problem on one point but we'll manage it."

An indication of how jittery German political nerves have frayed, a Twitter hoax announcing the end of Merkel's government went viral before the rumor could be put to rest.

A Twitter hoax has sparked chaos in Germany after claiming Angela Merkel's coalition had fallen apart.  

Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) was forced to deny it planned to dissolve its decades-old alliance with the Chancellor's Christian Democrats.

The post on a hoax Twitter account came as Merkel holds tense negotiations with her coalition partners over immigration in a stand-off that could ultimately cost her job. 

Hardline CSU  interior minister Horst Seehofer wants Germany to unilaterally impose tougher migration controls, while Merkel fears that will further divide the EU and wants to coordinate controls through Brussels.

All of this is playing out against a backdrop of a collapsing consensus in the E.U. regarding refugees.  Italy's new government recently refused to give permission to a boat full of refugees to dock, setting off bitter recriminations with France and the rest of the E.U.:

Italy summoned France's envoy on Wednesday and demanded an apology from President Emmanuel Macron, who had said Rome's move to block a migrant rescue ship from its ports was an act of "cynicism and irresponsibility".

Macron, in a phone call late on Wednesday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said he did not mean to offend "Italy and the Italian people", according to a statement.

The two leaders confirmed a lunch meeting on Friday to discuss "new initiatives" on immigration, a day after Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced an "axis" with Germany and Austria to fight illegal migration.

"France does not want escalation; it's counter productive.  We need to maintain dialogue," a source close to Macron said as the president visited the western town of Rochefort.  However, the source added that Macron was not "taking back anything".

Populist, nationalist, and anti-migrant political parties have been on the rise for the last five years as governments in the E.U. refuse to listen to ordinary citizens and their fears of being inundated by foreigners.  In Germany, that failure to heed warnings from voters may end up consigning Angela Merkel to an ignominious end.