Angela Merkel has a full and frank exchange op opinions with Horst Seehofer (left) and the SDP's Olaf Scholz (source: Global Look Press)
The ink has hardly dried on the coalition agreement between Germany's CDU, CSU and SDP coalition government partners who finally agreed to form a new government after six months of wrangling following an inconclusive election, than the government leader engages in a bitter dispute with a key minister and a crucial ally. Such conflicts may prove fatal to the futures both of the ruling coalition and its members.
Days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s was sworn in for a fourth term and her ministers took their oaths of office, the perceived harmony (perceived by whom we wonder?) in Europe’s leading economic power was again disrupted – this time by newly appointed interior minister Horst Seehofer, who is also the leader of Merkel’s longstanding Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU). Seehofer provoked another bout of controversy by saying that “Islam does not belong to Germany, as we reported a week ago.
The minister’s statement immediately drew a rebuke from Merkel, who said that “Islam has now become a part of Germany.”
This provoked a barrage of criticism from CSU members and other German parties in the Bundestag. More significant, however, is that it seems to have revived an old dispute that has plagued the relations between the two German “sister-parties” and their leaders for several years.
Seehofer previously served as prime minister of the German federal state of Bavaria for some ten years. At the height of the refugee crisis, the south-eastern state found itself on the front line, accepting the massive inflow of asylum seekers travelling to Germany via the so-called Balkan route. Being the second-most populous German state, Bavaria also had to take in one of the largest quotas of refugees that came to Germany.
As a result of these developments, Seehofer seems to have adopted a much more hardline stance on immigration than Merkel, who stubbornly refuses to abandon her decision to open Germany's borders to criminals, beggars, the illiterate, people traffickers, members of organised crime networks and terrorist groups and general dickheads without carrying out any background checks or even asking for a valid passport or national identity card. For three years, the CSU leader has been regularly slamming his ally for her ‘open door’ policy. He has also long demanded a cap on new arrivals alongside with much stricter immigration controls.
Even though the CDU/CSU union won the most seats in the Bundestag at the last election, it still suffered a major setback by gaining just 33 percent of the vote, an all-time low in terms of public support since 1949. As a result, Merkel accepted some of Seehofer’s policy demands – including the refugee cap – but noe The Chancellor seems to be backsliding on her agreements and returning to the EU Commission's plan to flood Europe with cheap labour.