Merkel’s Allies Insist on Conservative Unity Before Coalition Talks

Merkel’s Allies Insist on Conservative Unity Before Coalition TalksMerkel’s Allies Insist on Conservative Unity Before Coalition Talks

The Bavarian sister party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has said they must agree policies on immigration limits, pensions and healthcare before opening coalition negotiations with two other parties.

Leaders of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) —stung by a drop in support of more than 10% in the Sept. 24 election— have redoubled their push for a 200,000 per year cap on immigration, a demand that Merkel has rejected, complicating her efforts to form a new government, Reuters reported.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer said the conservative allies could not begin negotiating with the environmental Greens and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) until the issues were resolved, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Monday.

It said the Bavarian premier, who is fending off calls for his own resignation, said the two parties faced their biggest challenge since 1976 —when his predecessor, Franz-Josef Strauss, threatened for weeks to break up the alliance.

Seehofer, whose biggest challenger is Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder, a hardliner on immigration, will meet Merkel and other top officials on Sunday, the paper said.

The conflict inside the conservative camp is straining Merkel’s already difficult task of bringing together parties with big differences on energy, Europe, migration and taxes.

Armin Laschet, premier of Germany’s most populous region, North Rhine-Westphalia, said at the weekend that Merkel’s CDU would not form a coalition at any cost, and that the Greens would have to step back from some of their demands.

  Far-Right Rejected

Almost all of Germany’s main parties said they would reject the far-fight Alternative for Germany (AfD) movement’s choice for parliamentary vice-president, highlighting its political isolation despite its strong showing in elections.

The anti-immigrant AfD party swept into the Bundestag lower house of parliament with 12.6% of the vote last month, making it the first far-right organization to win seats there since the 1950s —and the third largest parliamentary group.

All blocs represented in the Bundestag are entitled to have their own vice president of the parliament, who chairs sessions, sets the agenda and call MPs to order where necessary. But the candidates need to be approved by a simple majority of all sitting lawmakers.

Four out of five of AfD’s rival blocs in parliament spoke out against the AfD’s choice of Albrecht Glaser —a 75-year-old who has called Islam a political ideology not a religion, and said it is impossible to differentiate between Muslims and Islamists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc has so far not taken a public position on the AfD’s choice. Michael Grosse-Broemer, the head of its parliamentary group, declined to comment on Monday.


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