Despite unrelenting rain, around 20,000 people demonstrated in Munich on Sunday to protest the hardline immigration stance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies CSU, three months before they face a tough election in the state.
Demonstrators said they marched against a “politics of fear” of state premier, Markus Soeder, and CSU leader and federal interior minister, Horst Seehofer, whose anti-migration stance threatened the federal governing coalition last month.
Organizers of the rally, including NGOs, political parties and church groups, wanted to emphasize that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) was not the only political organization that in their eyes promotes a politics of “exclusion and hate.”
Protesters were called on by organizers to put the spotlight on “a massive societal shift to the right, the surveillance state, the restriction of freedoms and attacks on human rights” that they see as inherent to CSU policies.
Bavarians will go the polls in October and analysts say the CSU’s anti-immigration stance was intended to prevent the AfD from poaching its voters. However, opinion polls show that the far-right group has profited immensely from the crisis caused by the CSU in the federal governing coalition.