Merkel dodges political bullet with controversial migrant deal

Cheryl Sanders
July 3, 2018

The CSU, which faces a regional election in Bavaria in October, has recently sharpened its criticism of Merkel's open-door policy for refugees and argued that Germany should not wait for other European Union member states and move forward with unilateral measures to stop irregular migration.

Since then, more than one million people have arrived in Germany, while Merkel's governments have repeatedly tightened immigration and asylum laws.

He said on Sunday that his talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel over migration had "no effect" and offered his resignation.

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.

"I think the way in which this debate is being conducted is damaging not only Germany's image", he said on Monday, "but first and foremost its government".

The CSU had threatened to impose new controls at the German border this week if they deemed that agreements and proposals Merkel brought back from a European Union summit were insufficient to ease the migrant burden.

According to reports, CSU leaders had tried to talk Seehofer into staying during Sunday night's closed-door meeting and a press conference was postponed to Monday.

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

Merkel said in an interview with ZDF television that the formal agreements and verbal commitments she had secured from her EU partners would have the migration-stemming effect the CSU wanted to achieve, but in a more European-minded fashion.

The Seehofer-Merkel meeting is scheduled for 5pm CEST.

Speaking ahead of an EU summit last week, Merkel - a staunch advocate of EU-wide solutions - said migration could be a "make or break" issue for the union.

To survive politically, 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.

"I want Europe to remain together", she said.

Seehofer rejected this agreement and threatened to step down from his role as both interior minister and party leader, putting the stability of the German government at risk. Mrs Merkel returned from an European Union summit with what she says is an agreement with 16 other European Union states to take back migrants registered there, about as much as could be expected without violating the bloc's free movement rules.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of the CSU leadership, said that Merkel's rejections of compromises submitted by Seehofer suggested she was happy to see him go. She said 14 other nations had given verbal assent to work toward similar deals. Originally conceived as a protest movement against Germany's involvement with the Euro single currency, the AfD has recently found its voice - and unprecedented success at the ballot box - opposing mass migration.

Other reports by iNewsToday