Top Christian Democrat politicians have expressed confidence that they can present a united platform with their Bavarian allies for Germany's nationwide election. The "Union" parties have clashed over refugee policies.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) General Secretary Peter Tauber (pictured, left) told German news agency dpa he was confident that his party and Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) could lay the foundation for a combined election manifesto at a meeting scheduled for February.
That's despite the unresolved dispute between the two parties over migration policy. The CSU, led by Horst Seehofer, wants to limit the number of asylum seekers entering Germany each year to 200,000. The CDU's leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has strongly rejected that. Seehofer hasthreatened to cancel the February meeting of the parties' top leaders. He has indicated that without a migration cap, the CSU would run as an opposition party.
Still, Tauber told dpa on the sidelines of the CDU leaders in the Saarland town of Perl that he strongly assumed that the meeting in Munich would go ahead.
"We shall then hopefully with this meeting together start the prelude for a combined manifesto," Tauber said, adding that the plan should be developed by the European summer.
In the German federal parliament, the CDU and CSU form the conservative Union bloc and usually coordinate their election campaigns. While the CSU is on the ballots only in Bavaria, the CDU vies for votes in the 15 other German states.
Clashes over migration
Though most of their policies align, the migration issue has become a sticking point. It is also set to be a decisive issue in September's election, the first nationwide vote since the country took in more than a million people seeking refuge over the past two years. As well as integration challenges, Germany is also grappling with security and terrorism concerns. The man suspected of killing 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market in December was a rejected asylum seeker from Tunisia who had used multiple identities in Germany.
Other CDU politicians are trying to find alternative solutions to the Union's conflict. The party's leader in Rhineland-Palatinate, Julia Klöckner (right in main picture), said the establishment of "transit centers" could "help" in the debate. There, new arrivals' prospects of being able to stay in Germany as refugees could be checked.
"We would know who is coming to us, could control that better and keep track of it. Then the debate about an upper limit, as the CSU proposes it, is settled," she said.
Although leading CDU politicians were sticking with their plans to venture to the Bavarian capital, whether February's meeting in Munich would really go ahead remained unconfirmed.