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.
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.
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.
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.