German government rent by deepening crisis
16 June 2018
Just three months after taking office, the fourth government of Angela Merkel is facing possible dissolution. A fierce conflict over refugee policy between the conservative sister parties, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), threatens to blow apart the Grand Coalition, which also includes the Social Democratic SPD. This could also mean the end of the chancellorship of Merkel, who has been German head of government since November 2005.
CSU chairman Horst Seehofer, the interior minister in Merkel’s cabinet, wants to refuse entry at the German border to refugees who have already been registered in another European Union country and whose fingerprints are stored in the Eurodac system. In the last year alone, this would have affected 60,000 people.
Merkel rejects this and instead is seeking a “European solution” to the refugee issue, which amounts to the hermetic sealing off of Europe’s external borders, standardized asylum procedures being carried out in special camps and the distribution of refugees by country quotas. Merkel fears that unilateral German action will trigger a Europe-wide chain reaction, leading to the collapse of the open borders of the Schengen system, which would have devastating economic consequences and blow apart the European Union.
The CDU and CSU are independent parties, but they do not compete against each other in elections. The CSU exists only in Bavaria, while the CDU is represented in all other federal states. At the federal level, the two parties traditionally work together and form a common faction in the Bundestag (parliament). But in the past week, the conflict between them has escalated rapidly. “The Chancellor’s fall, the end…