German interior minister resigns in migration showdown with Merkel

02 July, 2018, 16:13 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Angela Merkel may have to choose her words carefully

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's Christian Social Union have had a close partnership for seven decades. Seehofer said the matter was also affecting the "credibility" of his role as party leader and is planning to give a statement to CSU leaders, party sources said.

Merkel on Friday came away from an European Union summit with agreements from Greece and Spain to take back migrants previously registered in those countries, and an overall agreement by the 28-nation bloc to ease the pressures of migration into Europe. Seehofer has threatened to turn away certain categories of asylum-seekers at the country's borders, while Merkel insists on a solution that involves other European countries.

Pressure from the right is especially acute for the CSU as it faces October regional elections in Bavaria.

In an extremely fluid situation, Merkel and Seehofer are due to meet later in the day and before that, a joint session of the parliamentary groups of the CSU and CDU is due to take place, although there was some doubt if it would go ahead.

After the inconclusive ballot, Merkel needed two tries and nearly six months, a postwar record, to stitch together her fourth-term government.

After a meeting with Seehofer on Saturday evening, Merkel told the German broadcaster ZDF on Sunday that the two people's meeting had "pretty good results", and she hoped to further work with her political ally CSU.

Following marathon talks at the Brussels summer summit, European leaders eventually reached a compromise on migration in the early hours of Friday.

But some in German political circles say that the row actually reflects Seehofer's longstanding rivalry with Soeder, who unseated him as Bavarian premier, accusing them of holding Germany hostage to a Bavarian issue.

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To politically survive, Merkel could attempt a minority government, seek a new coalition partner in the ecologist Greens or pro-business Free Democrats, or orchestrate a no-confidence vote in parliament that could trigger new elections.

The source of the impasse is a migration plan hatched by Seehofer to take unilateral action to turn back migrants who have been registered first in another European Union country. Party leader Andrea Nahles said that "the CSU is on a risky ego trip that is paralyzing Germany and Europe".

Late on Sunday, Mrs Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) passed a resolution supporting her position on migration.

CDU leaders and lawmakers on Monday stressed the importance of maintaining intact the conservative alliance, Germany's strongest political force for much of its post-war history.

Nevertheless, the anti-refugee, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered parliament for the first time previous year, leading to months of paralysis while Merkel struggled to put together a workable coalition.

German press agency DPA reported that at the meeting Seehofer proposed resigning as the leader of CSU and the interior minister, but senior party officials reportedly opposed the move.

Ahead of a hard Bavarian state election in October, the CSU is determined to show it is tough on migration.

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