Merkel settles migrant row with allies to pursue coalition

  09 October 2017    Read: 603
Merkel settles migrant row with allies to pursue coalition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) reached a deal on migrant policy with her conservative Bavarian allies on Sunday, removing a major obstacle to pursuing talks on a coalition with other parties, Reuters reported.

In an apparent concession, Merkel agreed to put a number on how many people Germany would accept per year on humanitarian grounds, namely a net total of around 200,000 individuals.

The CDU and Christian Social Union (CSU) reached the migrant deal after about seven hours of talks and later adjourned their meeting. It was unclear whether they had agreed on other issues, such as Europe and pensions. Further details will be made available at a news conference on Monday.

Merkel won a fourth term as chancellor in a Sept. 24 election but was weakened by heavy losses to the far right.

She wants to build a coalition between her conservative bloc and two other parties, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens, which are far apart on issues from tax and energy to Europe.

First, however, she must get her own house in order and overcome some major differences between her CDU and the CSU, its sister party in Bavaria, a state that accounts for 15 percent of Germany’s population.

The two parties have formed a parliamentary bloc together for decades, but have diverged over migrant policy since Merkel left the border open to a huge wave of migrants in 2015, most of whom entered the country through Bavaria.

The CSU has demanded a cap on refugees, but Merkel has resisted that, arguing it would breach Germany’s constitution, which guarantees the right of asylum to anyone facing political persecution.

Under the face-saving compromise brokered on Sunday, Germany would accept a net of about 200,000 people a year on humanitarian grounds, including families of refugees already in Germany. Authorities will not turn people away at the border, however, and the parties avoided using the term “upper limit” that Merkel has consistently rejected.

“We want to achieve a total number of people taken in for humanitarian reasons (refugees and asylum seekers, those entitled to subsidiary protection, family members, relocation and resettlement minus deportations and voluntary departures of future refugees) that does not exceed 200,000 people a year,” states the agreement.

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