Monday, 12 November, 2018

German minister drops threat to quit over migration

Patty Aguilar | 03 July, 2018, 19:49

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the agreement "allows us to preserve the spirit of partnership in the European Union".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition was facing an uncertain future, as her hardline conservative interior minister Sunday offered his resignation after weeks of battling to change her mind on migrant policy.

Ahead of a hard Bavarian state election in October, the CSU is determined to show it is tough on migration. However, the current dispute has erupted as Germany is seeing far fewer newcomers than in 2015.

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.

The 68-year-old is keeping Germany on tenterhooks over his next move that could potentially send the government crashing, after he offered to resign during a dramatic overnight crisis meeting with his Christian Social Union (CSU) before reversing his stance. The leadership of Merkel's party on Sunday night approved a resolution stating that "turning people back unilaterally would be the wrong signal to our European partners".

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.

But CSU parliamentary group chief Alexander Dobrindt "does not want to accept Seehofer's resignation", participants in the hours-long huddle said.

A day before Monday's agreement was reached, Seehofer told the press: "I will not be dismissed by a chancellor who is only chancellor because of me". But in comments to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, he complained that he was in an "inconceivable" situation.

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Germany's political crisis is the latest sign of a growing divide across the European Union between those who want to maintain open borders and those who want to restrict the number of migrants entering the bloc.

If the CSU were to pull out of their alliance, Mrs. Merkel's party and her partners in the governing coalition, the center-left Social Democrats, wouldn't have enough votes to pass legislation, putting her government at risk.

Polls indicate the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), would be among the biggest winners, an unpalatable outcome for Merkel and all other parties.

European agreements "will take a very long time" to take effect and there are uncertainties over which countries will join, hard-line Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said. And he predicts that there will be a chain reaction in European countries if Germany closes its borders.

But he also struck a conciliatory tone, saying "there is an abundance of possibilities ... for compromises", without specifying what they were. And he insisted that the CSU isn't questioning the government's stability and doesn't want to break up the CDU-CSU partnership.

"We think this is good because now we are getting back down to business", Nahles said after a meeting of coalition leaders in the chancellery.

Given that the CDU and SPD without the CSU would be short of only two seats in parliament, she could hope for support for individual policies from the Greens, liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and possibly even the CSU in some cases.

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