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Merkel`s CDU toughens migrant stance to woo voters

Andrew McCathie, dpa
Published: 08 December 2016 Thursday, 06:40  AM

Merkel`s CDU toughens migrant stance to woo voters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel`s conservative Christian Democrats ended their annual conference on Wednesday by setting out tough new rules for migrants living in the nation as it gears up for a hard fight in next year`s election.

However, Merkel clashed with the party over its call for limits on dual citizenship saying she personally believed it to be "wrong."

Meeting in the industrial western German city of Essen, the CDU agreed to toughen up Germany`s asylum laws with proposals to accelerate deportations of failed asylum seekers and to cut their welfare benefits.

It also called for the creation of controversial so-called transit zones on Germany`s borders to process refugees` paperwork before they enter the nation and for German to be recognized as the national language in the country`s constitution.

But speaking in a TV interview, Merkel rejected the CDU`s citizenship plan under which children born in Germany to foreign parents would need to choose a nationality.

She said the proposal would not be introduced during the current legislative period and that she considered it to be wrong.

The CDU had previously agreed to allow immigrant children to have both German citizenship and that of their parents as part of their deal to forge a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

SPD leader and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel attacked the CDU conference call saying the party`s move to scrap the rule that allowed the children of immigrants to be dual citizens as a "blow to integration."

The CDU conference formed part of the build-up to next year`s national elections where Merkel will be seeking a fourth term as chancellor.

Merkel hopes to woo back voters who have switched to the new anti-foreigner Alternative for Germany (AfD) out of frustration over her once liberal refugee stance.

Speaking at the conference on Tuesday, Merkel called for a ban on the Islamic full-face veil wherever it is legally possible and pointed out that the nation`s constitution was paramount over parallel groups in society as well as Islamic religious rules embodied in sharia.

She also insisted there would not be a repeat of last year`s refugee crisis, which was triggered by her decision in September to open Germany`s borders to allow about 1 million refugees to travel to the country.

But since then, Merkel has also hardened her stance on migration by moving to stem the flow of refugees into the nation and to tighten up the nation`s asylum rules so as to also help with the deportations of failed asylum seekers.

Her plan to reduce the numbers of refugees entering Germany included spearheading a European Union deal with Ankara whereby the EU provides Turkey with funds to offer shelter for those mainly fleeing Syria`s civil war rather than their travelling to Western Europe.