After welcoming more than a million refugees into Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approval ratings have seen better days. Discontent with her open-door policy has steadily risen, and so has support for right-wing populists. Her push for a European Union-wide solution seems increasingly likely to fail, while the question of her political survival has crept into headlines at home and abroad.
The sheer scale of Europe’s escalating refugee crisis, the most serious since World War II, has been the driving external force behind this unsettling reversal of Merkel’s political fortune. But there has also been a strong domestic one: Horst Seehofer, the premier of Bavaria and one of her fiercest critics.
Strangely enough, as head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian arm of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Seehofer also happens to be a key ally in her three-party ruling coalition. But for months, he has loudly demanded the chancellor reverse course on her controversial refugee policy, in a style more becoming of a political rival than a coalition partner.