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Merkel faces off with rebellious allies over migration

The chancellor and interior minister Horst Seehofer have sparred over migrant policy on and off since 2015.

Angela Merkel (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Angela Merkel (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rebellious Bavarian allies are searching for a way to resolve a standoff over migration, but a compromise looks elusive in a dispute that has rocked her government.

The crisis that has raised questions over the future of Mrs Merkel’s three-month-old government pits interior minister Horst Seehofer and his Bavaria-only Christian Social Union against Mrs Merkel, head of its long-time sister party the Christian Democratic Union.

Ahead of a difficult Bavarian state election in October, the CSU is determined to show it is tough on migration.

Mr Seehofer wants to turn back at the border asylum-seekers who have already registered in another European Union country but Mrs Merkel is adamant that Germany should not take unilateral actions that affect other EU nations.

Horst Seehofer arrives fortalks in Berlin (Michael Sohn/AP)

Mr Seehofer and Mrs Merkel, who have long had a difficult relationship, have sparred over migrant policy on and off since 2015, but the current dispute has erupted as Germany is seeing far fewer newcomers than in 2015.

Mr Seehofer reportedly argues that measures to tackle migration agreed at a European Union summit last week are not enough. He offered his resignation at a meeting with leaders of his party on Sunday night — though he put it on hold ahead of a meeting in Berlin with the CDU leadership.

The leadership of Mrs Merkel’s party approved a resolution on Sunday saying: “Turning people back unilaterally would be the wrong signal to our European partners.”

It is unclear what effect his resignation as interior minister and CSU leader would have on the alliance between the two conservative parties and their governing coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats.

Over recent days, speculation had focused on the possibility that Mrs Merkel would fire him if he went ahead unilaterally with his plan.

That would probably end the seven-decade partnership of the CDU and CSU, which have a joint parliamentary group, and would leave the government just short of a majority.

Mr Seehofer made no comment to reporters as he arrived at Monday’s meeting in Berlin, but in comments to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, he complained that he was in an “inconceivable” situation.

“I won’t let myself be fired by a chancellor who is only chancellor because of me,” he was quoted as saying in an apparent reference to the CSU’s traditionally strong election results in Bavaria.

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph