Merkel Tops Migration Hard-Liners in Poll on Government Showdown

(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped migration hard-liners in a popularity poll in Bavaria, suggesting she still has room to maneuver in a government rift over border security.

Voters identifying as backers of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian ruling party that’s set Merkel an end-of-June ultimatum for tightening borders, gave Merkel 61 percent support, compared with 56 percent for state premier Markus Soeder, according to a Forsa poll for broadcaster RTL published Monday. Statewide, Merkel had 43 percent to Soeder’s 38 percent.

The poll gives a measure of support to Merkel in the breakdown between the CSU and her Christian Democratic Union, which threatens to tear apart their long-standing party alliance and is putting her three-month-old coalition government at risk.

“With their ruthless campaign against the chancellor, the CSU leadership isn’t just hurting the union” between the CDU and CSU, Forsa director Manfred Guellner said in the statement. “They’re hurting their own party.”

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who heads the CSU, has vowed to use his law-enforcement powers to send back certain asylum seekers at Germany’s borders if Merkel doesn’t reach agreements with European Union partners this month. Merkel rejects the border proposal, setting up a potential rupture that could leave her without a majority in parliament.

Seehofer himself is under pressure from Soeder and other Bavarian leaders, who are trying to outflank the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party that’s polling about 13 percent in Bavaria ahead of a state election in October.

Yet 75 percent of those polled in Bavaria said that there are other problems “that are just as important or even more important” that migration, according to the June 21-22 Forsa poll of 1,003 people.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.