Sources: Germany's SPD eyeing new elections amid government crisis






Berlin - By Michael Fischer and Marco Hadem,- Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), just 100 days into their third coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, have conducted three internal meetings to talk about the prospect of snap elections, party sources have told dpa.



 
The meetings, chaired by SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil, were about potential dates for the poll. They also looked at drawing up candidate lists and a party programme, and organizing an extraordinary party conference, the sources confirmed.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), are locked in a bitter dispute about how to deal with migrants at the German border.
Speculation is rife that the stand-off could result in a split between the long-standing allies.
Writing in the national daily Die Welt on Friday, Bavaria's CSU prime minister, Markus Soeder, warned that the country was "at the crossroads" over the migration question.
Soeder, also marking his first 100 days in office, repeated strident criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-doors immigration policy in 2015.
He noted that a democratically legitimate force - the Alternative for Germany (AfD) - had arisen to the right of the CDU/CSU alliance for the first time in modern German politics, securing 12.6 per cent of the vote at the September elections to become the third force behind the CDU/CSU and the SPD.
The CDU/CSU had to answer the key question whether it had the strength "to make a lasting offer to those who are unsettled, those who want a strong state, protection for Europe and those for whom their own cultural identity is dear to them," Soeder wrote.
A YouGov poll released Friday showed that nearly a third of Germans surveyed (32 per cent) believe that the dispute could unseat Merkel's government, which is made up of the CDU, the CSU and the SPD.
Some 31 per cent of respondents said they believed the coalition would last until the next election in 2021.
Forty-three per cent of respondents to the survey said that Merkel should make way for a successor, while roughly the same percentage (42 per cent) said she should remain in office. Fifteen per cent declined to respond to the question.
Merkel's interior minister, CSU chairman Horst Seehofer, has warned that, unless she finds a way to stem the influx of migrants with EU partners, he will close national borders to certain groups of asylum seekers.
Merkel argues that unilateral decisions could create bottlenecks, thereby inviting tensions with Germany's neighbours and undermining EU solidarity.
The YouGov market research firm surveyed a representative sample of 2,053 people during a three-day period ending on June 21.

Friday, June 22nd 2018
By Michael Fischer and Marco Hadem,
           


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