Interior Minister Seehofer: ‘I also would have been going into the streets’ in Chemnitz

If Germany Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had been in Chemnitz during mass protests last week, “I also would have been going onto the streets," he said in a Thursday interview.

Interior Minister Seehofer: 'I also would have been going into the streets' in Chemnitz
Horst Seehofer on Wednesday in the Bundestag. Photo: DPA

In the Rheinischer Post interview, the Christian Social Union (CSU) politician added that he would have only taken to the streets had he not been minister and “of course not with the radicals” in order to condemn “the brutal crime” that recently occurred.

Following the murder of a local 35-year-old man last week, in which one of the suspects was an alledgedly rejected asylum seeker, Seehofer said that he could understand the sense of indignation and anger that arose among the local population.

Yet at the same time, he stressed that the fight against right-wing extremism in Germany needs to be strengthened, not only in Saxony but throughout the country. He said Germany’s intelligence agency should observe the Alternative for Germany (AfD) if it deems them to now be a danger.

Migration: “The mother of all political problems.”

Seehofer also called the issue of migration the “mother of all political problems” in Germany,

Asked about his party's poor polling results, he replied: “For the first time, we have a party to the right of the Union that could establish itself in the medium term amid a divided country.”

Seehofer said that the growth of the AfD – which now polls as the country's second most popular party – had “not only” to do with Germany’s migration policy.

“But the migration issue is the mother of all political problems in this country. I have been saying this for three years. And this is confirmed by many surveys.”

Government in Saxony ‘nearly impossible’ without the AfD

Due to the rising angst in society about the impact of migration in the east German state, he added that it is “nearly impossible” to have a government in Saxony without the AfD.

He also spoke about the difficulties of negotiating a European solution for a more even distribution of migrants within the EU.

In a terse political showdown between Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel in June, Seehofer threatened to resign if a compromise could not be met. He wanted that refugees who were registered in other EU countries not be allowed to enter into Germany.

Frustration has also been growing among Germans, with 72 percent of respondents in a July YouGov survey stating that immigration policies are negligently handled.

“Let us take the agreement with Italy as an example: for every refugee we return to one country, we should take in another,” he said in the interview. “This is a zero-sum game; it creates order, but no limits.”

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Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.