Germany’s moment of truth has arrived. After over a million migrants sneaked into the country in the last quarter of 2015, the political discourse of Europe’s powerhouse on migrants has begun to transform. Today, the country is less tolerant when it comes to dealing with non-locals, and there is increasing demand for Germany’s borders to be shut. The tug of war between the moderate German Chancellor Angela Merkel representing Center of Right Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and her Interior Minister Horst Seehoder belonging to Bavaria based ultra-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) is pushing her coalition government to the brink of collapse. Seehoder, while openly disagreeing with Merkel’s relatively tolerant migrant policy wants Germany’s border with Austria closed to stop the influx of migrants to the German state of Bavaria. Social Democratic Party (SDP) a senior coalition partner of CDU is totally against pursuing a hard line policy on migrants, believing this could undermine human rights and freedom of movement of people guaranteed under the European Union (EU). If CSU pulls out of CDU and SDP coalition, the outcome will be government collapse and the holding of fresh elections which may result in more electoral gains for the ultra-right Alternative for Germany (AID). How will Angela Merkel deal with this grave crisis which has engulfed her coalition government? Can Germany prevent the influx of migrants without shuttering it’s borders? What will be the impact of the political crisis between Merkel and her Interior Minister on the stability of Europe? Germany is Europe’s strongest and the world’s fourth largest economy. It has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.4 trillion dollars; per capita income of 41,000 dollars; exports of 1.2 trillion dollars and trade surplus of more than 300 billion dollars. Like Japan, Germany was practically destroyed during World War II. But, within three to four decades it was able to rebuild itself to become an economic powerhouse. The unification of Germany in October 1990 and its role along with France and other major European countries for transforming European Economic Community to European Union as a result of Maastricht Treaty of February 1992 reinforced its position in Europe as a pillar of the continent’s stability. With a population of 82 million and under the dynamic leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2005, Germany played a leadership role in Europe till the time it was struck by the refugee crisis in 2015. It was only after more than one million refugees sneaked into Germany from southern Europe that an anti-migrant wave triggered populism and anti-refugee feelings in Germany. The rise of AID and its electoral standing further reinforced Germany’s moment of truth. It only makes sense that the German people’s stance on migrants has changed. Not only have there been reports of poor conduct on the part of the migrants, there is also more pressure on the job market. This has given impetus to AID to openly call for the deportation of migrants and prevent more from entering Germany. Merkel’s welcoming stance towards migrants has become a source of harsh criticism. Luckily, this political upheaval has not affected the country’s economy yet. Regardless, the so-called populist and nationalist elements in Germany missed no opportunity to trigger anti-immigrant feelings in order to gain political latitude. It was only after more than a million refugees sneaked into Germany from southern Europe that an anti-migrant wave triggered populism and anti-refugee sentiments in Germany The threat given by Merkel’s Interior Minister representing her coalition partner Bavarian based CSU of taking unilateral action to prevent the influx of refugees from Austria was however not widely supported by other German political leaders. For instance, the June 29, 2018 issue of The Guardian Weekly quotes the German agriculture minister Julia Krockner, “if Germany closes its borders shut and Italy doesn’t accept any reform, then the refugees would obviously remain in Italy long-term.” Likewise, Armin Laschet, the CDU state premier of North-Rhine Westphalia, warned Horst Seehoder that “unilateral action on the German border could trigger a chain reaction threatening to damage the country’s national interest.” If CSU fears that if it doesn’t take strong action to prevent migrants entering Germany from its southern borders, AID will gain political advantage and can get electoral strength in next election, it would mean encouraging that hostile migrant political party to further expand its anti-local stance. CSU also fears that in October 2018 elections in Bavaria it may lose to AID if it fails to take a hard line approach on the issue of immigrants. On its own, Germany cannot prevent the flow of immigrants on its territory unless there is consensus among its neighbours. France and Germany pursue a common approach but the right wing governments in Austria and Hungary are in no mood to accept any deal short of enforcing strict border control. If camps are established for immigrants and borders are made difficult to cross, both measures will contradict the basic spirit of European Union, like free movement of people, capital, goods and services. One can understand the predicament of German people following the influx of more than one million immigrants in their country. While the flow of immigrants has drastically reduced since 2015, the possibility of foreigners pouring into Germany for better economic prospects still exists. It is this type of fear which has not only given an impetus to right-wing political parties and groups in Germany but in the entire West, including the United States. But for Germany, particularly its Chancellor Angela Merkel, the challenge is a do or die situation because if an amicable solution is not sought to deal with the migrants who have entered Germany since 2015, the country may drift further towards the far right. It is because of the wise and prudent leadership of Angela Merkel that Germany has managed to retain it’s benign image despite the rising forces of intolerance and racism, giving not only Germany but the rest of Europe a ray of hope as well. The agreement reached between CSU and CDU to establish special transit zones on Germany’s borders with Austria from where the bulk of refugees enter is considered as a lesser evil than closing borders with neighbouring countries, which will be the end of the EU. It is yet to be seen how SDP, a senior coalition partner of Angela Merkel decides on the idea of special transit zones. It rejected such a solution three years ago. Moreover, CDU and CSU will also have to seek the consent of the EU about such zones as deporting migrants to the port of their entry would mean they will have to be sent back to Italy or Greece, which have their own problems. The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi and can be reached at: email@example.com Published in Daily Times, July 13th 2018.