A scandal over migrants being chased through the streets has exposed a rift between Angela Merkel and Germany’s security establishment that is dividing her coalition and hindering efforts to contain the fall-out from her “open door” refugee policy.
The crisis blew up when Hans-Georg Maassen, chief of the BfV intelligence agency, said he was not convinced far-right extremists had attacked migrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz last month and a video said to show the violence may be fake.
That put Maassen at odds with Merkel, who said the pictures “very clearly revealed hate” which could not be tolerated.
“For a more decisive chancellor, this would have been enough to fire him,” said Carsten Nickel at political consultancy Teneo Intelligence, adding that support for Maassen from Merkel’s conservative Bavarian allies was staying her hand.
Now, Merkel is caught between her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which backs Maassen, and her other coalition partner, the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD), who say he has lost credibility and must go.
The upshot is that the chancellor looks weak, her coalition is in crisis and she is less able to deal with pressing issues such as Brexit, European Union reform and trade problems with the United States.
“The migration issue will certainly continue to haunt Merkel until the end of her term,” said Nickel.
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