BERLIN (Reuters): German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a rebellion over migrant policy on Tuesday that risks destabilising her coalition, just as she is pushing EU partners to agree a common solution.
Merkel’s handling of the migrant crisis – which saw more than 1.6 million people arrive in Germany from 2014 and helped propel the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into parliament – has come back to haunt her in the last few weeks.
On Tuesday, some senior members of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) opted to back her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a Bavarian conservative who has long been a thorn in the chancellor’s side over migration.
Seehofer had been due to announce a “Migrant Masterplan” under which Germany would turn away at its borders those asylum seekers who have already been registered in another European Union state.
However, Seehofer had to cancel Tuesday’s presentation of the plan – which envisages fully reversing an open-door policy Merkel announced in 2015 – due to differences with his boss. The alleged rape and killing of a 14-year-old German girl by an Iraqi man, extradited from Iraq on Saturday, has reignited the debate on migrants and followed a scandal at a regional office which wrongly granted asylum applications.
Seehofer, a former leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) which is facing a difficult regional election in October, wants to show he is toughening up the rules in his 63-point master plan. Merkel objects to turning away asylum seekers at the border, fearing it could lead other countries to do the same.