Merkel’s Bavarian Allies Split on Immigration

The German chancellor’s Bavarian sister party praises the Hungarian policies she despises.

Prime Ministers Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Horst Seehofer of Bavaria talk in Bad Staffelstein, Germany, September 23
Prime Ministers Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Horst Seehofer of Bavaria talk in Bad Staffelstein, Germany, September 23 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies criticized her immigration policy on Wednesday, saying Hungary’s efforts to keep asylum seekers out “deserve support” rather than derision.

“We need Hungary to secure the outer borders of the EU,” Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer said at a joint news conference with Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

“We are now in a state of mind without rules, without system and without order because of a German decision,” he added in his most pointed criticism of Merkel’s immigration policy yet.

Politico reports that conservatives in Berlin are seething with anger, calling Seehofer’s remarks “outrageous” and his invitation of Orbán “backstabbing”.

Seehofer leads the Christian Social Union that caucuses with Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the national parliament. The party dominates Bavarian politics. It has an absolute majority in the regional legislature.

Unlike Merkel, who has moved the Christian Democrats to the middle in a (successful) attempt to steal votes from the left, the Bavarian conservatives are firmly on the right of the political spectrum.

Germany’s southernmost state, which is also its second-richest, is the main entry point for immigrants journeying across the Balkans into Western Europe.

Federal authorities expect that up to one million immigrants will apply for asylum in Germany this year. Many are fleeing the war in Syria but an estimated 40 percent come from poor Balkan states like Albania and Kosovo instead.

Orbán has taken a hard line, saying the crisis is Germany’s to deal with. “Nobody would like to stay in Hungary so we don’t have difficulties with those who would like to stay in Hungary,” he said earlier this month.

The Hungarian leader has since said he is defending Europe’s Christian civilization by keeping Muslims out. The country built a fence on its border with Serbia to stop immigrants and voted against a German-backed plan to distribute migrants proportionately across the 28 countries in the European Union.

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