February 18, 2019

Merkel's immigration crisis far from over, Europe News & Top Stories

03 July 2018, 11:14 | Devin Moran

German interior minister resigns in migration showdown with Merkel: sources

Germany secures deal for return of failed asylum claimants: reports

He did not give details of the compromise, but said he no longer intends to resign.

Seehofer said he was ready to step down as minister and chair of his Christian Social Union (CSU) at a meeting where his party's leadership was discussing whether to accept immigration proposals Merkel brought back from Brussels last week.

Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, a key party in Merkel's coalition, has become increasingly hostile to her position on immigration.

Mr Seehofer has threatened to turn away certain categories of asylum seekers at the country's borders, but Mrs Merkel has insisted upon a European solution. Whether the two conservative parties would be able to get Merkel's junior coalition partner, the center-left Social Democratic Party, to agree also was an open question. He offered his resignation at a meeting with leaders of his party on Sunday night - though he put it on hold ahead of a meeting in Berlin with the CDU leadership.

The CSU's showdown with Merkel comes as it faces an October state election in Bavaria in which it fears losing its cherished absolute majority.

By Monday morning, there were already signs that some CSU officials regretted the extent to which their colleagues had jeopardized national cohesion for a reelection strategy that does not seem to be paying off. Markus Söder, the Bavarian state premier - as well as Seehofer's rival in the party - told reporters Monday that he was "very surprised" about Seehofer's offer to step down.

Merkel, who has been Germany's chancellor since 2005, has often thwarted her opponents by assuming their positions, but on migration she can not do that to the same extent.

Seehofer's "master plan" on migration centered around refusing entry to asylum-seekers who have previously registered in other European Union countries, a move that his party likely hoped would win back supporters who turned to the Alternative for Germany.

However Seehofer rejected Merkel's assessment that the EU-wide measures would "have the same effect" as his demand to turn away migrants registered elsewhere in the bloc.

"We can achieve a lot in a government, but not outside", Soeder said.

A statement emerged at 2 a.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT Sunday), via a media conference where Seehofer said he had agreed to meet with Merkel one more time before he makes his final decision.

The chancellor's claim that the CSU's demands had been fulfilled by the European Union deal was contradicted by some CSU politicians entering the meeting in Munich, who maintained that it was up to the party to decide.

However, the more conservative CSU believes its credibility is at stake as it tries to curb support for the anti-migration Alternative for Germany party in the upcoming Bavarian election.

By letting the CSU tear itself apart over its future in the coalition, Merkel may yet rid herself of a formidable foe in Seehofer - as she has with a string of other top conservatives in her 12-1/2 years in office. Europe is slow, and we aren't yet where we want to be.

"The CSU's risky ego trip is paralyzing Germany and Europe", SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles told journalists in Berlin.

Her CDU lawmakers are still behind her while the CSU has baffled voters and commentators by backing themselves into a tight corner.

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