Merkel under fire in Germany migrants row

03 July, 2018, 00:47 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Deal made for migrants in Europe

CSU leader and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who advocated unilateral measures such as turning away asylum-seekers at Germany's national border, held an emergency meeting on Sunday in Munich with party officials on the future of the coalition.

Merkel's centre-right CDU party and its conservative Bavarian CSU allies are holding separate meetings to weigh the results of last week's European Union summit, which agreed collective measures by the bloc's 28 members to reduce immigration.

If the CSU were to withdraw its support for Ms. Merkel's party, her options would include joining forces with the migration-friendly Greens or heading a minority government.

CDU deputy leader Armin Laschet said the party's position is "independent of Horst Seehofer or Angela Merkel, because we want the European solution".

The BBC's Jenny Hill in Berlin says Mr Seehofer might have overplayed his hand by issuing his ultimatum, only for Mrs Merkel to return from Brussels on Friday with an EU-wide strategy and bilateral agreements with more than 10 countries.

The leader of Angela Merkel's Bavarian allies, the CSU, offered to step down from his ministerial role and party leadership during a fiery closed-door meeting on Sunday ( 1 July).

Despite the drama over Mr. Seehofer's resignation threat on Sunday, several political analysts said the most likely outcome was for both parties to walk back and find a last-minute compromise.

A separate Forsa poll Monday showed that Seehofer had even failed to rally a majority of CSU voters behind him, with 49% backing Merkel in the dispute against 48% for the interior minister and party leader. The CDU's leaders, who are now gathered in Berlin for a second straight day of discussions, said they still see room for a compromise solution in the migration dispute.

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But he also struck a conciliatory tone, saying "there is an abundance of possibilities. for compromises", without specifying what they were.

The CSU has not missed an opportunity to make its resentment of Merkel clear since her 2015 decision to leave Germany's borders open to hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers. The CSU is fighting state elections in Bavaria in October and, under pressure from the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), is seeking to burnish its own anti-refugee credentials in an attempt to win back voters.

Ms Merkel also secured agreement from Greece and Spain to take back from Germany migrants who previously registered in those countries.

They and right-leaning members of the CDU fear the chancellor has led them too far into the centre, leaving space for the emergence of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has eaten into the conservative camp's vote.

In currency markets, the euro took an early knock on reports German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had rejected a migration deal Merkel negotiated at an European Union summit on Friday.

"The sum of all we've agreed is equivalent to what the CSU wants", she said.

"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.

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

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