German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to her party bloc for unity, as her junior coalition partner clashed with her over benefits for asylum seekers, an official who attended the closed-door meeting on Monday said.
Merkel received a standing ovation from lawmakers of her Christian Democrat-led caucus, according to the party official. That contrasts with three days ago, when the chancellor, whose refugee policy has come under increasing criticism in her bloc, was publicly rebuked by the leader of her Bavarian sister party, which is part of the caucus.
Volker Kauder, Merkel’s parliamentary leader, earlier Monday rebuffed a demand by her Social Democratic coalition partner to apply European Union rules that would increase benefits to asylum seekers.
“We can’t see how it makes sense in the current situation to implement an EU directive that was decided years ago,” Kauder told reporters before the caucus meeting in Berlin. Merkel’s government has agreed to reduce benefits in response to this year’s record influx and won’t turn around now and enact the “huge improvements” foreseen under the EU rule, he said.
The dispute is delaying a parliamentary vote on an agreement that Merkel extracted from the coalition partners on Nov. 5 as part of the government’s plan to reduce the flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.