Has Its Showdown With Merkel Over Migration Already Backfired for Germany’s CSU?

Has Its Showdown With Merkel Over Migration Already Backfired for Germany’s CSU?
A protester holds a sign that reads, “CSU where is your Christian-social conscience?”, Munich, Germany, July 22, 2018 (Photo by Alexander Pohl for Sipa USA via AP Images).

BERLIN — Earlier this summer, the leaders of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, threatened to bring down the German government in a showdown with Merkel over stricter measures for refugees and asylum-seekers. The move was largely seen as an attempt by the party, which is facing a challenge from the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, or AfD, to prove it was tough enough on migration issues.

It didn’t work out the way they intended.

Two months after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the head of the CSU, first went head-to-head with Merkel, the party’s fortunes have declined further and its prospects look dimmer ahead of pivotal regional elections next month. Long the dominant force in Bavaria with an absolute majority in its state parliament, the CSU’s support has dropped to a historic low of 36 percent—a more than 10 percent drop from the last election five years ago, and a sign that it will almost certainly need to work with another party form a coalition government in Bavaria after October’s vote. Meanwhile, Seehofer and Markus Soeder, the CSU’s co-leader and the Bavarian state premier, have become increasingly unpopular in their own state.

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