BERLIN, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The Bavarian party allied to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU) on Thursday welcomed the CDU’s tougher stance on the integration of migrants but urged it to go further to restrict arrivals and up deportations.
The CDU and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) together form the conservative faction in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, but the two parties are at odds over how to deal with last year’s record migrant influx to Germany of 890,000 people.
Their rift persists as the CDU wants to improve relations with the CSU ahead of a 2017 election and regain support lost to the far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD).
In a hardening of her stance on migrants’ integration in Germany, Merkel this week called for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible” and the CDU passed a resolution on tackling forced marriage and honour killings, and cracking down on dual citizenship.
“The overall development is good,” CSU leader Horst Seehofer told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
But Seehofer said differences remained and called for the deportation of a “demonstrable number” of refugees. He also reiterated his demand for a cap to be placed on the number of migrants coming here. Merkel has rejected such a cap.
CSU member Manfred Weber, who also heads the conservative European People’s Party (EVP) in the European Parliament, told taz newspaper the CSU would not join a coalition with the CDU after next year’s election without an agreement on such a cap.
Senior CSU member Gerda Hasselfeldt told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain the CDU had strengthened its conservative profile and that many of its positions now corresponded with the CSU’s own.
“The party congress is a good basis on which to go confidently into the 2017 election year together,” she was quoted as saying.
But the CDU’s firmer stance attracted criticism from the opposition.
Sahra Wagenknecht, a prominent member of the far-left Linke party, accused the CDU of simply adopting the policies of the AfD: “Instead of finally getting on with actually dealing with the causes of migration, they prefer to copy the AfD programme when it comes to asylum issues,” she told German news agency DPA.
Greens leader Simone Peter was also critical of what she said was a shift to the right by the CDU on its refugee policy and said that forcing people to choose between two nationalities would seriously hinder integration. (Reporting by Christian Goetz, Ralf Bode and Michelle Martin; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)