Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer received heavy criticism from top politicians on September 6 after he labelled illegal migration as the “mother of all political problems” in the country – a statement that was quickly pounced on by opposition parties in the government who demanded that Seehofer immediately tender his resignation.

Seehofer, a right-wing politician who heads the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the conservative sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and who is diametrically opposed to Merkel’s refugee policy, expressed his opinion while explaining why Europe’s established centrist political parties are losing power.

“Many people now associate their social problems with the issue of migration,” he told the Rheinische Post, adding that if Germany did not alter its migration policy, major political parties would continue losing ground to fringe political parties.

Speaking with RTL television, Merkel, who is regularly at odds with Seehofer over the immigration issue, recently said, “That’s not how I’d put it…the question of migration poses challenges. In terms of the migration issue as a whole, there are also problems, but also successes,”

Merkel has drawn heavy criticism from both political allies and opponents over her 2015 decision to implement an open door policy for refugees which resulted in 1.6 million people, mainly from Middle Eastern and African countries, illegally entering Germany in search of asylum over the course of the last three years. The decision to allow in a massive influx of refugees angered certain sectors of the German electorate and severely weakened Merkel’s conservatives who lost voters to a far-right party in last year’s national elections.

The vice-party leader of the opposition SDP – the Social Democratic Party – and the top candidate for the state election in Bavaria, Natascha Kohnen, called for Seehofer’s immediate resignation following his controversial comments, saying that Seehofer supports “single acts of violence that are to exploited for the purpose of inciting anti-migrant sentiments”.

Kohnen’s demand was backed by Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt, who wrote shortly after Seehofer’s claim that “ignorance and racism are the mothers of all problems”, and later hinted that Seehofer had repeatedly failed to fully carry out his duties as the country’s interior minister.