Merkel’s Possible Successor Questions Germany’s Unconditional Asylum Seeking Right

Merkel’s Possible Successor Questions Germany’s Unconditional Asylum Seeking Right

Friedrich Merz deems the eternity clause of Germany’s constitution that provides for the right of asylum should be debated.

Friedrich Merz, one of the three bidders to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of her ruling CDU party, and, respectively, as Chancellor of Germany in the future, has cautiously questioned the unconditional right to seek asylum in the count.

Friedrich Merz, one of the three bidders to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of her ruling CDU party, and, respectively, as Chancellor of Germany in the future, has cautiously questioned the unconditional right to seek asylum in the country.

Merkel recently announced her decision not to seek reelection as leader of the Christian Democratic Party at the party congress in December 2018, and to step down as Chancellor of Germany when her fourth term expires in 2021.

Her third term was marked by her open-door policy during the migrant crisis that peaked in 2015. Since then, Germany has received an estimated 1.6 migrants from the wider Middle East.

Friedrich Merz, together with the two other leading candidates to replace Merkel as CDU head, Jens Spahn and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer presented their bids to a party meeting in Seebach near Eisenach in Thuringia on Wednesday night, DW reports.

Merz also urged caution with respect to the signing of the proposed UN pact on migration. Several hours earlier, Merkel herself had expressed support for the UN document of its kind in an address at the German Parliament (Bundestag) in Berlin.

“I have long believed that we need to think about [debating the right of asylum seeking],” Merz stated.

“If we want to regulate immigration at the European level, then someday we will need a general debate on the fundamental right to asylum,” he declared.

While he acknowledged that the UN pact on migration was non-binding, the candidate to succeed Merkel argued the German fundamental right to asylum should not create an additional legal right for applicants.

“If Germany accedes to this pact, it must be made clear that it does not extend the grounds for asylum before the administrative courts,” he said.

Merz pointed out that Germany was the only country in the world that sets out an individual right to asylum within the constitution, in the so-called “eternity clause” of its Basic Law and cannot be altered unless a new constitution is adopted.

“At some point in the future, we have to hold a major public debate about whether to make a legal reservation in the Basic Law,” said Merz.

His rival Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is close to Merkel, supported the Chancellor’s position.

“I believe that this pact brings more advantages than disadvantages for us. It would be worth arguing for. And, of course, to debate it at the CDU party congress,” she said.

The other candidate, Spahn, supported international guidelines for migration but said many countries were not ready to join the pact.

Recent elections in the German states of Bavaria and Hesse saw the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) gain traction at the expense of the CDU and its sister party, the CSU, as well as other mainstream parties.

In his speech, Merz vowed to lead the CDU back to election results of “up to 40 percent.”

The new leader of the CDU, a post held by Angela Merkel since 2000, will be elected at a party conference in Hamburg on December 7-8, 2018.

(Banner image: CDU Thuringia)

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