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Bavaria's leader slams Scholz government ahead of state vote

September 23, 2023

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder sharply criticized Olaf Scholz's three-party federal coalition on migration. Söder was reelected as the head of his conservative CSU party shortly before a critical Bavarian state vote.

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder speaks at the CSU party conference in Munich
Söder has been Bavaria's premier since March 2018Image: Peter Kneffel/dpa/picture alliance

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder chided Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government on Saturday, just weeks before a critical election in his southern German state. 

"This government is probably the worst government Germany has ever had," Söder declared, while saying the situation "can't stay the way it is now." 

Söder: Germany needs shift in migration policy

Söder in particular called for a change in migration policy in Germany. The Bavarian premier said municipalities in his state are struggling to keep up with an increasing number of arrivals. 

"Yes to humanity, but no to uncontrolled immigration to Germany," Söder told fellow members of his conservative Bavaria-based  Christian Social Union (CSU) party.   

The Italian island of Lampedusa recently saw thousands of migrants arrive on its shores, prompting emergency action from the Italian government and EU. Söder said the situation on Lampedusa showed migration has gotten out of control in Europe. 

The Bavarian leader derided members of Scholz's three-way federal coalition, which consists of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP) and environmentalist Greens.

Söder described Scholz as a "master of silence." He said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, meanwhile, "is erring, she seems increasingly overwhelmed."    

Germany sees rising migration at Polish border

The Bavarian leader said Germany needs an "integration limit" of how many people it can take in. He also said that the repatriation process for rejected asylum seekers should be speeded up. 

In addition, Söder suggested that Germany expand its list of "safe countries of origin" to include countries in North Africa along with India. People from countries on the "safe" list have only a small chance of having their asylum applications accepted if they migrate to Germany.  

Söder's critical migration remarks on Saturday came as the CSU held a party conference in Munich. Söder was reelected party leader with a record 96.56% of the vote during the event.

Far-right AfD are 'Kremlin servants," Bavarian leader says

Söder's CSU is angling to keep its historic position as the most influential party in Bavaria during next month's state vote on October 8. This comes as the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party makes gains in public opinion surveys.

Söder lambasted the AfD on Saturday as "Kremlin servants." He accused the party of jeopardizing German security and properity with ideas such as a possible withdrawal from the NATO military alliance.

The AfD is making gains as the German public is increasingly growing dissatified with the Scholz government's handling of not only migration, but other topics such as inflation, energy and Ukraine.  

Germany’s migrants and minorities fear a far-right surge

Söder is capitalizing on this dissatisfaction and hoping the criticism will mobilize voters for the upcoming state election. Recent polls show the CSU well ahead, with its conservative coalition partner the Free Voters coming in second. 

Scholz on Saturday, amid mounting scrutiny of his government, told members of his SPD party that he is in favor of tougher immigration controls. He noted the number of people coming to Germany and Europe has "risen dramatically" and urged German politicians across party lines to come up with joint solutions.        

wd/nm (Reuters, AFP, dpa) 

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