Merkel ally revisits refugee limit as poll shows majority agrees

Angela Merkel's key ally renewed his call on Friday for the German chancellor to change her stance on refugees after a poll showed the majority of Germans backed his demand for a limit to be imposed on the number of migrants entering the country.

"We will not give up on a ceiling," said Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer, who also heads up the Christian Social Union (CSU), allies of Merkel's Christian Democrats.

A survey drawn up by pollsters TNS Emnid for the magazine Focus and released on Friday found that 60 per cent support imposing a cap.

Only 35 per cent back Merkel's rejection of an upper limit along the lines of the 200,000 a year proposed by Seehofer.

"It is purely and simply to do with our credibility," Seehofer told the news magazine Der Spiegel, acknowledging the political damage the conflict with Merkel over the upper limit was causing to the CDU-CSU.

Pollsters say the battle between Merkel and the CSU chief over how to handle the refugee crisis has been a major reason for the slump in support for the CDU-CDU bloc in opinion polls.

Seehofer said he wanted to end the conflict with Merkel before the CDU and CSU party conferences later this year.

But he went on to say: "What is also true is that there has to be a change in the policy if we want to win back confidence."

In addition to the other major German parties, Merkel's rejection of the CSU's call for an annual limit also has the backing of the chief of the nation's top court.

Andreas Vosskuhle, who heads the Constitutional Court, said earlier this year that placing a limit on the number of refugees entering the nation was contrary to the constitution, which calls on the country to provide refuge for those escaping persecution.

After climbing to about 1 million last year, the number of refugees entering Germany has dropped off dramatically this year.

Still, the TNS Emnid poll found that 64 per cent of CDU-CSU members still supported Seehofer's call for stemming the flow of refugees through imposing a limit.

TNS Emnid surveyed 1,002 German voters between September 13 and 14.

A different survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that from among 12 European countries polled, Germany was the third most sympathetic towards Syrian refugees, with 84 per cent of Germans expressing some amount of sympathy.

Germans identified economic pressure as their top concern over refugees, with 39 per cent of respondents saying they were worried about the burden on the country's welfare system, while 29 per cent saying they were worried about integrating migrants.

Concerns that refugees could pose a risk to national security ranked low among Germans with only 25 per cent of respondents identifying it as a major threat.

In depth coverage

Majority of Germans want upper limit set on number of refugees

The majority of Germans back calls for an upper limit to be placed on the number of refugees entering the country, an issue that has divided Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative political bloc.

Read more
Last update: Fri, 16/09/2016 - 15:15
Last update: Sat, 17/09/2016 - 09:39

More from Europe

Mattarella looking to usher in functioning Italian government quickly

Following crisis talks in Rome on Saturday, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said he will be taking steps soon to...

Austria to veto further EU accession talks with Turkey

Austria will block the continuation of EU talks with Ankara over Turkey's future membership in the bloc, Austrian...

Diplomats call for ceasefire in Aleppo at Paris meet

Foreign ministry officials from the West and the Middle East meeting in Paris Saturday for talks on Syria have...

French government seeks to extend state of emergency to July 2017

The French government said Saturday it would ask parliament to approve an extension to the country's state of...

No agreement reached between Russia, Ukraine on gas deliveries

Russian and Ukrainian officials failed to reach an agreement on gas deliveries this winter in a first round of EU-...