A key political ally fired a broadside at German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday, saying her policies – which he blames for a humiliating weekend loss in a state election – need to be overhauled.
Sunday’s “disastrous” outcome in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was a result of Merkel’s liberal refugee policy, the premier of the southern state of Bavaria told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
His comments underline the deep divisions in the chancellor’s ruling coalition caused by the arrival during the last year of about 1 million refugees to Germany. Strains on social services – as well as a cluster of terrorism attacks linked to the refugees – have tested Germans willingness to back Merkel in welcoming the newcomers.
Seehofer is also chief of the arch-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian-based allies of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in the national parliament.
“The situation is highly threatening for the (CDU-CSU),” Seehofer said, insisting that people don’t want “this Berlin policy.”
Seehofer has long railed against the welcoming approach to refugees and has threatened legal action if she does not change path.
Pollsters say that the battle between Merkel and Seehofer about refugees has been a key factor in the slump in support for the CDU-CSU bloc.
The CDU was beaten back into a humiliating third place in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern election following a surge in support for the new right-wing populist Alternative for Germany.
Seehofer told Sueddeutsche Zeitung that his “multiple prompts for a course correction” had not been accepted by Berlin.
The CSU has also renewed its call for the chancellor to step up border controls and impose an upper limit on the number of refugees entering Germany.
In addition to refugees and immigration, Seehofer demanded that the chancellor clarify her government’s stance on taxation, security and pensions by October.