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Merkel under pressure from allies over migrant influx

September 6, 2015

As refugees continued to flow into Germany on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel was preparing for a meeting with her coalition partners. The conservative CSU has sharply criticized Merkel over her handling of the crisis.

A refugee holds a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the arrival of refugees at the main train station in Munich, southern Germany, September 05, 2015.
Image: Getty Images/AFP/C. Stache

The Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavaria-based sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), has criticized the chancellor's decision late on Friday to temporarily open up Germany's borders to thousands of migrants who had been stranded in Hungary.

The mass-circulation "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper reported in this Sunday's edition that Bavarian state Premier Horst Seehofer and other CSU leaders had agreed in a conference call on Saturday that Merkel's green light to ease the entry of the people wanting to seek asylum in Germany, many of whom have fled conflict zones in Syria or Iraq, was a "wrong decision by the federal government."

Earlier, Joachim Herrmann, the CSU interior minister of Bavaria, the German state which has been the point of entry for this weekend's influx, had accused Merkel of taking the decision to let the refugees in without first having consulted with the states, which have to cope with the situation on the ground.

A CSU spokesman confirmed that the issue would be on the agenda of the high-level meeting of Merkel's so-called "grand coalition" government, consisting of her CDU, the CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD).

The SPD to the chancellor's defense

Leading figures in the SPD, though, were quick to come to the chancellor's defense.

"In such an unusual and dramatic situation, it is absolutely right to grant people refuge," the SPD's parliamentary floor leader, Thomas Oppermann, said. "Germany must defend the values that make Europe so livable," he added. "In exceptional circumstances, this includes helping people in need when according to the rules, others were actually responsible."

During Sunday's crisis meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, the coalition was expected to discuss a number of measures including cutting red tape to facilitate the construction of shelters, increasing funds for the states and municipalities and speeding up the process of deciding whether people would be granted asylum.

pfd/se (AP, Reuters, dpa)