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Why Merkel’s coalition could be about to collapse

Why Merkel’s coalition could be about to collapse

Why Merkel's coalition could be about to collapse
Photo: DPA
A fight between Angela Merkel and and her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is threatening to collapse the German government less than three months after it was formed. Not for the first time, the two can’t agree on how to treat asylum seekers at the border.

What is the strife all about?

Merkel and Seehofer have been squabbling ever since the autumn of 2015, when the Chancellor decided to open Germany’s borders to refugees who were stranded in Hungary.

Pressure had been building throughout the summer on the government to do more to help people fleeing war in Syria. When 71 decomposing bodies were found in the back of a smugglers van in Austria, the German public was left stunned at the desperate plight of people seeking refuge in Europe.

Inside her own CDU party, Merkel was being told that her Christian voting base was becoming disenchanted by the Chancellor’s seeming indifference to the fates of the migrants. Meanwhile, on the European level, the migrants crisis was threatening to sow discord between countries like Greece and Italy on the front line and northern European states that were insulated from the arrivals.

Seehofer, head of Bavaria’s CSU party, saw things differently though. At the time he was state leader in Bavaria, the southern state bordering Austria. His voter base there was staunchly conservative and well known for its suspicion of outsiders, even those from other parts of Germany. He also knew though that his state would have to bear the biggest initial burden, as the vast majority of refugees were coming into Bavaria from Austria.

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