BERLIN (AP) — Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party voted Wednesday to scrap rules that allow the children of immigrants to be dual citizens, a move opposed by party leaders and rejected by its partners in government.
Until 2014, German-born children of immigrants from outside the European Union or Switzerland had to pick one nationality between ages 18 to 23, a rule largely affecting Germany's Turkish community. Merkel's current center-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats, insisted on dropping the requirement as a condition for entering the government.
That was never popular with Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union. Delegates at a convention in Essen narrowly backed a motion from the party's youth wing that advocated returning to the old system.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had argued against the motion, noting that no potential coalition partner after next year's election would agree to it.
Wednesday's decision appears to reflect a desire among some CDU members for a sharper conservative profile. Merkel has sought to satisfy that by promising that last year's huge migrant influx won't be repeated, backing both a partial ban on face-covering veils and calls for tougher rules on deportation.
Merkel downplayed the dual citizenship decision. She told n-tv television "this was about a small group (of immigrants), and I don't think we should reverse" easing the rules.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat and likely challenger to Merkel for the top job, said his party wouldn't agree to tougher rules. He said the vote shows that the CDU "doesn't agree with Mrs. Merkel's policies."
Delegates later backed a motion, backed by CDU leaders, that among other things urges making it easier to detain people ahead of deportations.
Merkel's party leads in the polls, but would likely have to turn to one of two left-leaning rivals or a socially liberal pro-business party to form the next government. It says it won't ally with the nationalist Alternative for Germany, which has thrived in polls by attacking Merkel's migrant policies.