German coalition teeters as minister offers to resign over migrants

Larry Hoffman
July 4, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition yesterday risked breaking apart as her hardline conservative Bavarian allies pushed a showdown over migrant policy after she was unmoved by her interior minister's threat to resign.

Patzelt also thinks there is a high probability that Seehofer, who has previously issued warnings to such effect, will use his power to make sure that asylum seekers are refused entry to Germany if they have already been registered in another European country.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, who has been tipped as a potential successor to Mr. Seehofer, said in a radio interview his party wanted an agreement with the CDU but gave no indication about what a compromise could look like.

Under the pact both sides hailed as a victory, Merkel and CSU head and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer agreed to tighten border controls and set up closed "transit centres" to allow the speedy processing of asylum seekers and the repatriation of those who are rejected.

At the national level, Merkel also proposed that migrants arriving in Germany who first registered in another European Union country should be placed in special "admissions centers" under restrictive conditions, according to a document she sent to the CSU and the Socialists.

Relations between the U.S. and other industrialised powers have turned increasingly tense as Trump has pushed his "America First" stance with punishing consequences for trading partners, irregardless of whether they are allies or adversaries.

The deal also requires support from the Social Democrats, the third party in Merkel's government.

It was the latest aftershock from Ms Merkel's 2015 decision to open Germany's borders to more than one million refugees fleeing from war in the Middle East and Africa.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria July 3, 2018. Should Merkel succeed in defusing the migrant policy crisis and reuniting the conservative bloc, she would partly restore her aura of invulnerability and show that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of her political demise were greatly exaggerated.

"It was a mistake that will follow us for a long time", he said at the time. Seehofer is a member of the Christian Social Union, an ally of Merkel's party.

But SPD leader Andrea Nahles warned that "my patience has worn thin".

"So they agreed in principle to a concept that was denied by the SPD and the former grand coalition in 2015 already, and Merkel at that time actually backed this agreement".

Gains by the populist Alternative for Germany have returned the topic to the CSU's agenda ahead of the state election. Last week, an FG Wahlen survey said 91% favour European solutions on migration, an endorsement of Merkel's line and a snub to Bavaria's nationalist push for unilateral border measures.

Public anger and fear about the newcomers has given rise to the far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which entered parliament past year and threatens Seehofer's CSU in Bavarian state polls in October.

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