YET ANOTHER CRACK IN THE EU… AND IN MERKEL’S GOVERNMENTMarch 22, 2018
The fissures in the European Union appear to be growing, in spite of the recent capitulations of London to Brussels in BREXIT. In this case, the fissure appears to be in Mad Madam Merkel's cabinet itself, where the new German minister of the interior, Horst Seehofer, has come out strongly against the refugee-open borders policy of Brussels and his erstwhile boss, Merkel herself, according to this article shared by Mr. H.B.:
Herr Seehofer isn't mincing his words either, coalition or no coalition:
Germany's populist, anti-immigrant AfD Party placed third in the recent elections, but judging by some recent by the newly-formed German government, they may as well have won.
Last Friday Germany's new Interior Minister Horst Seehofer - a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CSU Bavarian allies who are further to the right than her own Christian Democrats - declared that "Islam does not belong to Germany", contradicting former German president Christian Wulff who fueled a debate over immigration in 2010 by saying "Islam was part of Germany" and also set out hardline immigration policies in his first major interview with Bild published last week.
He also said that he would classify more states as "safe" countries of origin, which would make it easier to deport failed asylum seekers. The statements - an obvious attempt to court populist voters - come after Merkel’s conservatives, and their coalition allies - the Social Democrats - lost ground to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in elections last year.
As Reuters noted, Seehofer was particularly keen to show his party is tackling immigration ahead of Bavaria’s October regional election, when the AfD is expected to enter that state assembly. “Of course the Muslims living here do belong to Germany,” Seehofer said before going on to say Germany should not give up its own traditions or customs, which had Christianity at their heart. “My message is: Muslims need to live with us, not next to us or against us,” he said.
In an amusing response from Andre Poggenburg, head of the AfD in the eastern state of Saxony, he said that Seehofer was copying his party with a view to Bavaria’s October regional election: “Horst Seehofer has taken this message from our manifesto word for word,” he said.
Well, we imagine Andre will be even angrier when over the weekend Seehofer again caused controversy by calling for national border controls, just as the EU wants them to be eased: "the EU was failing to control the external border" Germany's new interior minister said.
But wait, it gets better.
In a stunning rebuke of Brussels hypocrisy, Seehofer also accused the EU of adopting an unhelpful and "lecturing tone" toward countries in eastern Europe over plans to distribute refugees throughout the bloc. He said a more productive approach could see eastern European countries sending more personnel to the external border or providing more financing for the border in exchange for accepting fewer refugees.
The 68-year-old former Bavarian premier is one of the most conservative senior members of the Merkel's new coalition government with the Social Democrats. At this rate he may become the head of the AfD by the next elections...
Now, why have I bothered to cite almost the entire article?
It is because I suspect there's a deeper story here, alluded to in the final paragraphs, and that story comes in two parts: (1) a message to the Brussels Eurocrats: quit meddling and lecturing everyone who disagrees with you. We saw, for example, just a few days ago, that the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had some strong words for the EU, and in spite of its size, the Netherlands packs a financial punch, and cannot be ignored. But it's the second part of the story that intrigues me: (2) how and why did such a conservative member of the German Bundestag become not only a member of Merkel's cabinet, but the Interior Minister no less, with control of a post that, obviously, will be able to influence refugee policy as well as interpret his own government's policy and control its application?
I suspect there are two answers to this question, and time will tell which of them is correct. The first answer is that Herr Seehofer's appointment was simply a necessity for any coalition government to be formed at all. And as a necessity, it is a strong indicator that, whatever her manifest faults, Mad Madam Merkel heard the results of the last election, and moved accordingly to the right in order to retain power. Either way one slices this, it's another indicator that her government is a weak government.
There is yet another way to read this, and again, time will tell which of these alternatives is the case. In the heyday of her previous coalition, before the refugee policies of Berlin and Brussels became such a point of contention in... well, pretty much everywhere from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Poland and so on, Merkel had a habit of allowing her cabinet ministers to make the controversial statements, while keeping herself above the fray until it could not be avoided any more. Recall only the controversial remarks of he previous Foreign Minister, Frank Walther Steinmeir, or her previous finance minister, Wolfgand Schauble. In this view, Herr Seehofer may be a "test balloon". I doubt this scenario, quite frankly, but it needs to be mentioned nonetheless.
But in either case, the signal is that of a weak government, and a weak leader, at a time that the Italian elections have signaled that the EU is clearly in trouble, and it's in trouble because of her policies.
And that means that the "Charlemagne/Karl der Grosse baton" has been passed to France. Just how long that situation will last is anyone's guess, but my guess is, not very long, for Merkel, by a skillful and talented combination of nitwittery, stupidity, and globaloney, has managed to pass that baton, once securely in Germany's hands, to France.
See you on the flip side...