by Simon Kent
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called an emergency meeting of coalition leaders after Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer demanded she stem the flow of migrants entering the country. The meeting is set to turn on new initiatives for controlling the flood and deal with the critical situation on the Austrian border, where thousands of migrants are flocking into Germany on a daily basis.
At the same time Merkel announced the meeting with Mr Seehofer, set down for later today, she pleaded for patience, saying that there were no quick fixes to the crisis. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the pair will meet with Social Democratic Party (SPD) head Sigmar Gabriel on Sunday.
Mr Seehofer, who is head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had earlier demanded that the government change course immediately. Since the beginning of August at least 318,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Bavaria, Germany’s south-eastern most state.
The Bavarian minister-president has constantly called for emergency measures to deal with the influx, including setting a cap on the number Germany will let in and building border reception centres to screen incoming migrants before they set foot in the country.
He has gone as far as to threaten to take the federal government to the German constitutional court.
As Merkel seeks to defuse the political unrest over her open-door policy, she also confronts waning public approval for her insistence that Germany has an obligation to welcome any and all migrants from the Middle East. Backing for her CDU slipped two points to 36 per cent this week, down from an August peak of 43 per cent, according to a weekly poll carried out by Forsa.
Meanwhile Germany agreed with Austria on Friday to new rules for a more “orderly” passage of migrants.After a week in which tensions flared between the neighbour states, Germany’s interior ministry said that the people massing at its border with Austria would now be funnelled through five entry points.
“We would like to have a more orderly procedure,” a spokeswoman for the interior ministry told AFP following a bilateral agreement which took immediate effect.