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    Ticking Clock as Merkel Summoned to Bavaria Amid Party Refugee Rift

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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1816)
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been summoned to the southern state of Bavaria for an emergency party meeting in yet another party rift after 34 of her own lawmakers signed a letter calling on her to drastically change her policy on refugees.

    Merkel has already been under pressure for her original declaration that German's doors were open to refugees from Syria, leading to 1.1 million refugees registering in 2015. The record number of arrivals — five times that of 2014 — included 428,468 Syrians, 154,046 Afghans, followed by 121,662 Iraqis. The number included just under 3,000 Moroccans and Algerians. The sheer volume had created a huge administrative backlog, the ministry admitted, which has reached over 470,000.

    Merkel's 'open doors' policy that precipitated one of the greatest mass exoduses in modern times has led to serious rift between her CDU party, its sister organization in, the CSU — led by Horst Seehofer, chairman of the CSU and Minister-President of Bavaria and their coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) led by Sigmar Gabriel.

    Horst Seehofer, the leader of the right wing Bavarian Christian Social Union said that no society could cope with such prolonged increases in migrants influxes, saying Merkel had sent completely the wrong signal to the world.
    © AP Photo/ Jens Meyer
    Horst Seehofer, the leader of the right wing Bavarian Christian Social Union said that "no society" could cope with such prolonged increases in migrants influxes, saying Merkel had "sent completely the wrong signal" to the world.

    Merkel, Seehofer and Gabriel clashed in November over her handling of the refugee crisis in talks on Sunday, with the Bavarian leader threatening "consequences" if Merkel did not take serious action over the crisis and agree to put a cap on the number of refugees Germany is prepared to take in. Gabriel, meanwhile, threatened to pull its ministers out of the coalition which would plunge the German government into chaos.

    Party Atmosphere

    The CDU/CSU alliance is under particular strain because the CSU element of it — the Bavarian membership — has witnessed the greatest amount of refugees pouring over the border from Austria. Its leader, Horst Seehofer — has been particularly critical of Merkel's failure to put a cap on the number of refugees.

    Now, 34 of her own CDU lawmakers have signed a letter calling for a change of policy, citing "political failure" and yet another "ultimatum." Meanwhile, her own transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt broke cabinet ranks to call for the closure of Germany's borders.

    Refugees walk to a chartered train at the railway station of Passau, Germany, Jan. 5, 2016
    © AP Photo/ Armin Weigel
    Refugees walk to a chartered train at the railway station of Passau, Germany, Jan. 5, 2016

    The fact that Merkel has once again been summoned to Bavaria to face her party — and she has gone — is a further sign of the brittleness of her authority and the growing anger within Germany at the refugee crisis. A poll by Forsa showed her party's popularity falling by a further percentage point — its lowest since November.

    Topic:
    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1816)

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    Tags:
    domestic politics, migrant crisis, party, crisis, refugees, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Horst Seehofer, Angela Merkel, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany, Europe, Bavaria
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