Bavarian Support

Merkel’s Contrition Starts Paying Off

Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leader, speaks during a news conference following a CDU federal board meeting at the party's headquarters in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. Merkel's party was dealt another blow in a regional election, posting its worst result in Berlin since the end of World War II as the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany extended its challenge to the political establishment by siphoning off voters. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
How many refugees Germany can accept and integrate remains an issue between Angela Merkel and her arch-conservative Bavarian sister party.  
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Only a few months ago, few people doubted that Chancellor Angela Merkel would run for a fourth term in the 2017 election. Now it’s an open question — even after she reached out to critics by admitting she had made mistakes.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Senior members of the Bavaria’s Christian Social Union have welcomed Ms. Merkel’s expressions of regret over last year’s influx of 1 million refugees — and signalled they’re ready to bury the hatchet with her.
    • Ms. Merkel’s comments on Monday were significant but did not amount to a reversal of her open-door policy — and it’s unclear whether it will win back voters who have drifted to the anti-immigrant AfD party.
    • Conservatives are calling for unity ahead of the general election in fall 2017 and expect Ms. Merkel to declare by December whether she intends to run again — some analysts say it’s still not assured that she will.
  • Audio

    Audio

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There was a certain irony to the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama chose this week to personally praise his German counterpart for her handling of the refugee crisis.

“I want to personally thank Chancellor Merkel and [Canadian] Prime Minister Trudeau, and the people of both those countries – because the politics sometimes can be hard, but it’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday.

His comments, at a special United Nations summit on refugees in New York, came just one day after Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed regret over errors made in her government’s handling of the crisis. Her mea culpa was aimed not at Mr. Obama but at domestic voters who have grown wary of her open-door refugee policy and punished her Christian Democratic Union party in two recent regional elections.

The electoral defeats have many within Ms. Merkel’s own party worried. For the first time, there have been questions raised over whether the chancellor should run for a fourth term in federal elections next year.

Ms. Merkel even canceled her own trip to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly this week in order to address growing concerns among party members at a meeting on Monday.

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