Chaos in Merkel's coalition after Seehofer dangles resignation

03 July 2018, 11:16 | Isaac Mcdaniel

BBCFraser Nelson declared that Angela Merkel's authority has been decimated in Germany and the EU

Fraser Nelson

In a closed-door meeting Sunday night, Seehofer offered to step down from both his ministerial role and leadership position from the CSU, a key party in Merkel's ruling coalition.

However, the more conservative CSU - which has sparred with Merkel over migrant policy on and off since 2015 - believes its credibility is at stake as it tries to curb support for the anti-migration Alternative for Germany party in the upcoming Bavaria election.

She said Greece and Spain had agreed to take back migrants stopped at the Bavarian-Austrian border who were shown to have entered their countries first, a commitment she hoped would assuage Mr. Seehofer's concerns.

Bernd Riexinger of the opposition far-left Die Linke party spoke of "mass internment camps" as proof that "humanity got lost along the way" and urged Merkel's other coalition ally, the Social Democrats (SPD), to reject the plan.

After further talks with a smaller group of CSU officials seeking to change his mind, Seehofer said he had agreed to meet again with Merkel's party before he made his decision final. The CSU is facing a state election in Bavaria in October, and has opted to take a hard-line anti-immigration stance as its main campaign strategy.

Seehofer was quoted as telling the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper Monday that he was in an "inconceivable" situation.

Mrs Merkel stayed up with European Union leaders until dawn on Friday to clinch a new deal on migrants.

The document circulated by Merkel to her coalition partners after the summit said 14 countries had agreed "on a political level" to take back some migrants who had passed through other European Union countries on their way to Germany.

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Seehofer, 68, has been a headache for Merkel, especially over her open-door migrant policy, and the last three years have been punctuated by a series of showdowns between the two.

At the same, for political opponents, the uneasy aftermath of Merkel's standoff with Seehofer hardly represented a change from a new coalition defined by frequent stalemates and infighting.

Individuals who are rejected by those countries will be pointed back into Austria "upon agreement" with Vienna, according to the deal that Mrs Merkel called a "very good compromise".

The chancellor's claim that the CSU's demands had been fulfilled by the European Union deal was contradicted by some CSU politicians entering the meeting in Munich, who maintained that it was up to the party to decide.

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

"I want Europe to remain together", she said. "That is why the unified action of Europe is so important to me".

Her CDU lawmakers are still behind her while the CSU has baffled voters and commentators by backing themselves into a tight corner. Party leader Andrea Nahles said "the CSU is on a unsafe ego trip that is paralyzing Germany and Europe".

The clash between Merkel and Seehofer, who is also the leader of the Bavarian conservatives in Merkel's coalition, escalated after eight hours of talks on Monday failed to resolve a stand-off over a policy that would affect relatively few migrants but has become deeply political.



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