Rival blasts Merkel for party infighting on refugees

30th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under fire Friday from her deputy leader for infighting within her conservative alliance over the country's refugee influx, calling it "simply irresponsible".

Merkel's open-door policy for those fleeing war and persecution has led to a growing backlash in Germany, and among her sharpest critics is the leader of her conservative CSU allies, Horst Seehofer.

The CSU chief has both blasted Merkel for her stance and heaped political threats against her, with the latest salvo being that he would "consider what other options we have" if Berlin fails to accede to his demand to control and limit the number of asylum seekers.

Vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the co-ruling Social Democrats, said such behaviour within the conservative bloc is "irresponsible, because it does not assure people, and it leads to rising fears that we won't be able to manage".

"The fight between Horst Seehofer's CSU and the CDU leader Angela Merkel would already seem strange at a normal time," he added.

"Given the big challenge that our country is facing from the huge influx of refugees, the fighting between CDU and CSU is also threatening the government's capacity to act," said Gabriel, who announced this week his intention to seek the top job in 2017.

If the backbiting went on, it would only serve to turn people off politics, and allow far-right extremists to gain ground, warned Gabriel.

Merkel and Seehofer are due to hold talks Saturday at a coalition meeting over the refugee influx, followed by a meeting between the three on Sunday.

SPD general secretary Yasmin Fahimi also chided the CSU for what she described as its churlish behaviour.

"The CSU must stop behaving like a little child in the federal government and come to the table constructively," she told public broadcaster ZDF.

© 2015 AFP

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