German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s list of allies continues to grow thin. Merkel heads up the Christian Democratic Union and their sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, is run by Horst Seehofer. (He’s also her Interior Minister.) The traditional allies are at a bit of an impasse now, however, because of Merkel’s steadfast support of open border policies which have seen more than a million migrants taking up residence in Germany in the past few years. Seehofer has apparently seen the writing on the wall and is now describing the country’s migrant problem in stark terms. (Associated Press)
Germany’s interior minister says the issue of migration is “the mother of all political problems in this country.”
Horst Seehofer, who also heads the Bavarian equivalent of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party, told daily Rheinische Post in an interview published Thursday that voters are linking their concerns to the issue of migration.
Seehofer has taken a tougher line on migrants than Merkel, at times sparring with her publicly, as his Christian Social Union party faces steep losses in next month’s Bavarian state election.
As we discussed last week, Merkel was faced with a series of riots in the eastern German city of Chemnitz after two migrants from Syria and Iraq were accused of murdering a German citizen. Merkel decried the violence and called for tolerance as any leader must. But facing what looks to be a very difficult set of elections in Bavaria next month, Seehofer actually came out in defense of the protesters who were hunting down migrants and beating them. In fact, saying he offered his “support” is putting it mildly. He told one local press outlet that if he weren’t the Interior Minister he’d have been out in the streets busting some heads himself. (Daily Mail, emphasis added)
Seehofer, who was instrumental in nearly bringing down his own coalition partner Angela Merkel last month with his criticism of her immigration policy, emphasized that not all the Chemnitz protesters were far-right activists as he defended their actions.
‘If I were not a minister, I would have taken to the streets as a citizen – of course not together with radicals,’ Seehofer told the Rheinischer Post.
Seehofer also called for a ‘pan-European solution to the migrant crisis’ adding that he believed ‘the migration issue is the mother of all political problems’.
Seehofer has already joined in with Austria and the new government in Italy to form the Axis of the Willing, seeking new solutions to the migrant crisis. (These guys really need to work on their political naming game. Calling anything an “Axis” is still frowned upon.) Italy has essentially stopped accepting new refugees and economic migrants at this point, turning ships carrying such travelers away at their ports. The borders of Austria are effectively closed. Spain has been very reluctant to take significant numbers of people fleeing Syria and Iraq, and the French are already up to their armpits foreign imports and terror attacks.
What is Germany supposed to do at this point? The right-wing party AfD (Alternative for Germany) made significant gains in the last election based largely on their opposition to further immigration. And the forecast for the upcoming Bavarian elections looks bleak for the parties who traditionally have held power in the modern era. It sounds like Seehofer has read the tea leaves and is ready to simply throw Merkel under the bus rather than be chased out of office. If Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor lasts to the end of the year it will be close to a miracle at this rate.