The Christian Social Union - the arch-conservative Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, on Monday agreed on its election manifesto, in which it calls for a cap on the number of refugees entering Germany.
The manifesto, dubbed "Bayernplan" (Bavarian plan), demands an annual cap of 200,000 on the number of refugees Germany accepts each year, a call that caused a major break last year in the relationship with Merkel, who says such a limit would be unconstitutional. "The long-sought limit of 200,000 refugees per year for Germany is necessary to ensure functional integration," the election manifesto says.
In the document, the party stops short of making it a condition for entering another coalition with the CDU.
"Simply the fact that the cap is on the table has led to a fundamental change in Berlin politics, one that is very much in our interest," said Horst Seehofer, the head of the CSU and Bavaria's prime minister. The protracted dispute about the cap ended earlier this year as the parties entered the election campaign.
"First, we want to win the election," Seehofer said.
Merkel unveiled plans on Monday for a new immigration law as part of her conservative political bloc's election platform, saying the program's central goal was to create more jobs and boost employment.
"Our future project for Germany means prosperity and security for all," Merkel told a press conference in Berlin.
As Merkel's campaign for the German general election on September 24 shifts into high gear, her Christian Democrats and their allies
in the CSU are promising full employment by 2025 along with tax cuts worth about 15 billion euros .
As part of that plan, the CDU-CSU are proposing a new immigration law for skilled workers to help fill the gaps in the nation's health and IT sectors.
German job vacancies stood at 730,802 in June - up from 664,872 in the same month last year, according to the Federal Labor Agency. Merkel's center-left rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD) have also proposed a new law to help Germany face up to its skilled shortages as part of its platform for the September election.
The CDU-CSU election program also included measures for families, the housing market and boosting police numbers.
SPD leader Martin Schulz lashed out at Merkel's election platform, describing it as "a desperate program, without any ideas for the future.
"It is a program that is dubious, unjust and irresponsible," Schulz said.
Merkel, on the other hand, who is making her bid for a fourth term as head of Europe's biggest economy, said "We want people to be better off at the end of the next legislature period than they are today."
The joint program drawn up by the CDU-CSU also formally brought to an end the tensions between the two parties following Merkel's decision in 2015 to open the nation's borders to asylum seekers.
More than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Germany since the start of 2015, raising voter concerns about integration, the demands on social infrastructure and possible terrorist threats.
The parties' joint platform did not include an annual ceiling on the number of refugees travelling to Germany - something previously demanded by CSU Seehofer.
Standing alongside Merkel, Seehofer said that an upper limit no longer played a role in refugee policy, with the number of migrants entering the nation having reached only about 80,000 this year.
Pollsters said the original split between Merkel and Seehofer on the refugee crisis had contributed to a sharp fall in support for the two parties. Support for the CDU-CSU has since rebounded, with polls showing the Merkel-led bloc with a commanding lead over the SPD in the run-up to the September election.
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