German coalition fracturing over immigration issues, Seehofer set to resign

German coalition fracturing over immigration issues, Seehofer set to resign

Horst Seehofer offered to quit his ministerial post and the chairmanship of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) at a marathon party meeting on Sunday to discuss whether immigration proposals Merkel brought back from Brussels last week were acceptable.

It isn't clear yet what effect Seehofer's resignation might have.

"In these troubled times, we need to present a face of unity, of efficiency in line with our values and shared histories", he said at a joint press conference in Paris with the Czech and Slovak prime ministers.

Her Christian Democrats (CDU) rely on the CSU to maintain power through a coalition formed three months ago to end a political vacuum.

"We want to continue to reduce the number of migrants coming to Germany", she said.

Germany's interior minister is expected to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's party after offering his resignation in a bitter dispute over migration policy, but there's little sign of a possible compromise.

After Merkel rejected the plan, Seehofer set the chancellor a deadline of July 1 to find a "European solution" to the issue of so-called "secondary migration", referring to asylum-seekers crossing internal EU borders after having already applied for asylum elsewhere in the EU.

Mrs Merkel reiterated her position that if countries start turning migrants away at national borders unilaterally, it would cause neighbouring countries to close their borders and jeopardise the border-free movement within the EU.

Supporters of German AfD wave flags in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, May 27, 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.

Sources said Seehofer complained in Sunday's closed meeting with party bosses that he had endured a "conversation with no effect" with the chancellor on Saturday about whether the EU-wide deal and string of bilateral agreements she struck met his demands. "I can't see what Merkel could realistically give him now that would be meaningful", he said.

In the third - and least likely option - Seehofer would resign and the CSU would leave government, "the nuclear option", according to Traugott.

Her CDU and its sister party CSU have suffered heavy losses in the country's federal elections previous year, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored record gains and entered the parliament for the first time.

Last November, when Merkel was negotiating her fourth coalition, the long-time chancellor told German broadcaster ZDF she was "very sceptical" about leading a minority government and would rather call new elections.

"Europe has moved further than ever because of the CSU's pressure", he said.

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

Merkel has insisted that the migration crisis - which has seen tens of thousands of North African and Middle Eastern asylum seekers enter European Union countries in recent years - is a matter for Europe as a whole to resolve.

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