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    German Economy Minister Siegmar Gabriel (C) peers between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bavarian state premier and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, April 14, 2016.

    Merkel's Union Coalition Suffering 'Worst Differences in Decades'

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    Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder and member of Angela Merkel's Union coalition has said he considers the differences between the Union parties the most severe for 40 years, since the last split between the parties.

    Söder said that there were "real differences" in the long-term union between Merkel's Christian Democrat Party (CDU) and Bavaria's Christian Socialist Party (CSU), led by Horst Seehofer, who has been particularly damning of Merkel's policies on migration.

    Seehofer expressed anger over Merkel's refugee policy after his state — Bavaria — became overwhelmed with the numbers arriving from Austria. He called for a cap on the total number and for border controls, which she has so far refused.

    The CDU/CSU Union has been a feature of German politics for decades, with the CSU operating only in Bavaria and the CDU in the rest of Germany. Merkel's unpopularity could yet see the CSU wishing to distance itself from Merkel — and possibly even campaign for political power outside of Bavaria in next year's federal elections.

    People wave German flags in Erfurt, central Germany,during a demonstration initiated by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party against the immigration situation.
    © AP Photo / Jens Meyer
    People wave German flags in Erfurt, central Germany,during a demonstration initiated by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party against the immigration situation.

    Söder also blamed Merkel for the rise of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party (AfD). Under the Chancellor the CDU have created a vacuum: "It can be seen that the right have moved into the space left after the CDU's move to the left."    

    Months of Splits

    In March, Alexander Dobrindt, Merkel's Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and former executive secretary of the CSU, has told German newspaper 'Passauer Neuen Presse' that Merkel's CDU/CSU coalition is "in a serious" situation and "the splits have never been as bad as they are now". 

    In November 2915, at the annual congress of his CSU party, Seehofer made the German leader look like "a schoolgirl," according to local media. In a 13-minute tirade, he lambasted Merkel over the handling of the refugee crisis, demanding she set a limit on the number of asylum-seekers the country would accept. The German chancellor is reported to have listened to his tirade looking deeply unhappy.

    The last time the CDU/CSU Union faced such a crisis was 40 years ago in 1976. After narrowly losing the election in that year, the CSU lawmakers decided to separate from the CDU lawmakers in the Bundestag.

    The CSU chairman Franz Josef Strauss also said his party would terminate its self-restriction to Bavaria and foster the foundation of local CSU associations outside of the party's home state, running in all future German federal and state election against the CDU.

    The vote was rescinded less than a month later, when the CDU said it would reciprocate and campaign for its own party in Bavaria. That was the last time the CDU/CSU faced a crisis as bad as today's.

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    Tags:
    domestic politics, migrant crisis, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Alternative for Germany (AfD), Markus Söder, Angela Merkel, Germany
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