Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

German interior minister 'resigning in migration row with Merkel'

German interior minister 'resigning in migration row with Merkel'

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer at a Cabinet meeting last month in Berlin. Merkel agrees that the current rules - known as the Dublin regulation - must be reformed, but insists that must be done at the European level. But Mrs Merkel defended a deal reached with the EU.

If the CSU withdraws its support for Merkel's coalition, she would be left without a majority in the German parliament, possibly prompting fresh elections.

Though the master plan remains unpublished, it emerged on Sunday evening that Seehofer had handed it out at the CSU meeting, though it had not been made available to the CDU leadership in Berlin.

Seehofer, who reportedly argues that measures to tackle migration agreed at a European Union summit last week aren't enough, said after his party's top leaders met early Monday that he would hold talks during the day with the CDU. Mr Seehofer was not there. He praised 70 years of unity between the two centre-right parties, German media reported. "There's no way out of the government for us and no way we'll end (the alliance) right now". Opinion polls suggest the AfD would be among the biggest winners in any fresh vote.

But SPD leader Andrea Nahles warned that "my patience has worn thin". "That way we can also preserve a Europe without internal borders".

How did the events unfold?

CDU lawmakers are still backing Merkel.

Germany's CDU chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbaur said Ms Merkels party now have a deal that will prevent migrants registered elsewhere from entering Germany.

"The sum total of everything we have agreed upon has the same effect" as what Mr Seehofer has demanded, Mrs Merkel said in an interview with ZDF television.

Apparently, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is unwilling to accommodate these needs of the CSU.

Is it a power struggle?

The dispute is nevertheless the latest sign of rising political risk and fraying alliances in Europe's biggest economy since support for Merkel's dropped bloc to an nearly 70-year low in a national election last year.

CSU leaders are divided over how to face down a challenge from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) in October's regional election.

The AfD surged into the German parliament (Bundestag) for the first time a year ago, winning 94 seats.

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

But bad blood between Ms Merkel and Mr Seehofer runs deep. Nationally the party would be down to 5% - the threshold for entering the Bundestag - rather than 6.2% before.

Meanwhile, the CDU on Sunday offered its sister party no conciliatory gesture in the tug-of-war over whether to seek European solutions to slash migrant numbers or take unilateral national measures.

For now, Merkel seems to be in the stronger position.

European Union leaders agreed Friday to consider setting up "disembarkation platforms" outside the European Union, most likely in North Africa, in a bid to discourage migrants and refugees boarding EU-bound smuggler boats.

The political crisis is one more sign of a growing rift in Europe between those who want to work together to reduce the number of migrants and refugees entering the bloc, and those who have grown exhausted of failed attempts to reach bloc-wide agreements and are taking unilateral action.

Like this: