Merkel gives in: German chancellor agrees to tighten immigration policies
Jul 04, 2018, 13:15
Emerging after five hours of talks, Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), told reporters he would remain in his post after a deal with Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) that he said would stem illegal immigration into the country.
But Seehofer said that agreement wasn't tough enough.
Germany's constitution prevents federal ministers from outright quitting their positions, and must request to be dismissed by the German President.
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Alternatively it could break up the two parties' decades-long partnership, depriving Merkel of her majority in parliament and pitching Germany into uncharted political waters.
He said he had spoken to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz by phone.
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).
The sources said that in Sunday's private party meeting, Seehofer said he had a "conversation with no effect" with Merkel when they held talks on Saturday about the European Union migration deal, AFP news agency reported.
Three years on, the centre-left SPD, wary of fresh elections, may feel less inclined to provoke a new crisis, but it could again reject the proposal at a meeting with members of Merkel's bloc in Berlin on Tuesday.
The CSU softened its stance in the face of withering criticism across party lines and poor polling results, insisting that the alliance with the CDU must live on.
That decision convulsed European politics, fuelling the rise of anti-immigration parties, including the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which now threatens to unseat the CSU in October's regional elections.
Merkel says a plan to regulate immigration that European Union leaders approved Friday and bilateral agreements in principle that she hashed out with some countries for them to take back migrants would accomplish what Seehofer seeks.
Those who are rejected could be sent back to their European Union arrival country if that state agrees, says the joint CDU/CSU plan.
"We will do the same thing and we'll come out ahead because there are more people arriving here".
German Chancellor Angela Markel on Monday balked on her signature immigration policies in a bid to stay in power, agreeing to create border camps for migrants and enforce tighter border control.
"As such the spirit of partnership in the European Union is preserved and at the same time an important step to order and control secondary migration and that's why I think that we have found a good compromise after tough negotiations and hard days".
Weeks of "Merkel-bashing", however, have failed to help the CSU, as a Forsa poll last week showed around 68 percent of Bavarians backed Merkel's quest for a Europe-wide answer to migration rather than Germany going it alone.
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