CSU retracts foot from mouth over immigrants
The Christian Social Union (CSU) has backpedalled on a document calling for immigrants to be obliged to speak German at home after stirring anger and mockery worldwide over the weekend.
Andreas Scheuer, general secretary of the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the Passauer Neuer Presse on Monday that there would be "no regulation, no obligation and no checks" on German language use.
The document, a suggested introductory motion for the party's conference, contained the suggestion that "whoever wants to live here permanently should be required to speak German in public and in the family".
Scheuer said that the party was talking about "motivation, not nannying, bans and checks."
But he held firm to the CSU's line that "the German language is the key to integration. No-one can have anything against that."
In the press and online, commentators and erstwhile allies spent the weekend distancing themselves from the CSU position.
"I think it's really nothing to do with politics if I speak Latin, Klingon or Hessian at home," Peter Tauber, CDU General Secretary, wrote on Twitter.
"It's like a real-live cabaret when politicians whose idiom often has to be subtitled... want to prescribe the way others should use the language," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote.
"I'm sure we'll never reach this level of political confusion in the SPD [Social-Democratic Party]", Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday.
The combined weight of press, political, public and even foreign comment - from the Jerusalem Post to the New York Times - on the party's proposal meant that almost everyone in the party leadership had their own retraction to issue on Monday.
"Everyone should be able to speak however they want at home," CSU deputy leader Peter Gauweiler said at a party board meeting.