October 6, 2017 / 8:51 PM / 14 days ago

Young German conservatives call for change after election losses

DRESDEN, Germany, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The youth wing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Friday the bloc had a credibility problem on migration and needed “new faces” after suffering big losses in the Sept. 24 national election.

Merkel won a fourth term in office, but her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party saw their worst results since 1949, bleeding support to the far-right Alternative for Germany and the pro-business Free Democrats.

Merkel, who will address 1,000 delegates from the Young Union (JU) in Dresden on Saturday, will try to hammer out differences with Bavarian party leaders on Sunday about their call for an upper limit to migration.

An agreement is needed before conservatives can enter into talks on a tricky three-way coalition with the FDP and the environmentalist Greens, an alignment untested thus far on a national level.

The young conservatives’ “Dresden declaration” called for an “honest and unflinching questioning of our polices of the past years” given the election results.

“Things cannot just continue as they were,” the declaration said. “Many people have the feeling that ‘those up there’ have forgotten ‘us down here.'”

The declaration said conservatives had a “credibility problem” on the migration issue, but emphasised the group’s wish for Merkel’s continued leadership.

At the same time, it said conservatives “should have the courage to represent the full spectrum of the party through new faces in government, the parliamentary group and party.”

The declaration did not demand an upper limit on migration as the CSU has done, but said a clear limit on migration and a quota for refugees were needed.

“What we don’t need is uncontrolled immigration into our social welfare systems,” it said.

The Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) is seeking a migrant cap to help recapture voters ahead of state elections next year, but Merkel and the Greens have rejected it.

Some members of Merkel’s conservatives and potential coalition partners are now calling for an immigration law as a way to solve the issue.

A new poll released by Focus magazine showed that 67 percent of Germans back the migrant cap demanded by the CSU, while 26 percent reject such a plan. (Additional reporting and writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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