Germany’s Christian Social Union party will give Chancellor Angela Merkel a two-week deadline to meet its demands for overhauling asylum policy, the Bild Zeitung reported, in what would mark an unprecedented challenge to her authority that risks plunging the nation into chaos.
The executive of the Bavarian party — an ally in Merkel’s government — will pass a resolution on Monday approving rebel Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s plan to turn away more refugees at Germany’s borders, the Bild Zeitung reported, citing officials in the party. Merkel has two weeks to gain the support of EU partners or Seehofer will execute the order unilaterally, according to the paper.
The rebellion of the CSU that’s being played out in Cabinet and parliament raged on over the weekend. Relations between Merkel and Cabinet rebels have soured to breaking point. Seehofer reportedly told CSU leaders behind closed doors that he “can no longer work” with the Chancellor.
Merkel is seeking the help of France to forge common proposals to tighten asylum rules before taking the plans to a summit of EU leaders on June 28-29. The reported deadline set by the CSU would mark an ultimatum that Merkel may not be able to fulfill as she negotiates aligning new asylum rules with her partners.
A key Merkel ally outlined a possible compromise to defuse the situation. The two coalition partners “are of the same mind that those who have claimed asylum elsewhere shouldn’t enter” Germany, said CDU Secretary-General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Merkel is urging EU partners to give states more power to turn away refugees, averting a go-it-alone approach demanded by the CSU, she said in a Bild am Sonntag newspaper interview. This is a “functional” solution, according to Kramp-Karrenbauer, that would avert a possible breakup in the governing coalition.
Led by Seehofer, the CSU claims Germany is empowered by national and EU laws to turn away asylum seekers who’ve registered in other EU states. Current arrangements allow claimants to stay in Germany awaiting judicial procedures that can last years.
The risk of a go-it-alone action ordered by the CSU-led Interior Ministry is real, said Andreas Scheuer, the Transport and Digital Infrastructure Minister and a member of the Bavarian party, in an interview.
That’s a move the CDU aims to thwart, according to Kramp-Karrenbauer. It “can weaken our negotiating position and potentially impact other areas such as the euro,” she said.
The CSU is defending its rule in Bavaria in an election in October and is fretting over the risk of hemorrhaging support to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party.
The populist group gained a point to garner 15 percent support in a poll of national voting intentions by Emnid, published in the Bild am Sonntag. The combined CDU-CSU also gained a point, scoring 33 percent.
The government Berlin denied a Bild Zeitung report saying that Merkel seeks a special summit with states like Italy, Greece and Austria to align policy that would empower border police to turn away refugees registered elsewhere.
Merkel is nevertheless in close contact with those states, a government spokesperson wrote in an email to Bloomberg. Merkel said she seeks the help of France to forge a realignment of asylum policy, taking proposals to a June 28-29 summit of EU leaders.