Germany’s Ruling Coalition Saved as Merkel Yields to Interior Minister Seehofer over Migration Policy

Germany’s Ruling Coalition Saved as Merkel Yields to Interior Minister Seehofer over Migration Policy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rescued her Cabinet and Germany’s ruling coalition by yielding ground to Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the head of the Bavarian sister party of the ruling CDU, on migration policy.

Merkel and Seehofer reached late Monday evening a deal which essentially incorporates all measures the latter had been insisting upon, DW reports.

In exchange, Seehofer, who had earlier threatened to resign, has agreed to remain Interior Minister keeping Germany’s ruling coalition safe, at least as far as the decades-long alliance between the CDU and the Bavarian CSU is concerned.

The content of the Merkel – Seehofer deal is as follows,

1) At the German-Austrian border there should be a new border regime ensuring “that we prevent asylum seekers whose asylum procedures are the responsibility of other EU countries from entering the country”.

2) Transit centres will be set up. From there, asylum seekers should be sent directly to the responsible countries. However, this should not be done without a consensus, but on the basis of administrative agreements, for example.

3) In cases where such agreements cannot be reached, they would nevertheless be rejected – “on the basis of an agreement with the Republic of Austria.”

“We have made a deal,” Bavarian leader Seehofer declared late Monday night, announcing that he and Merkel have a clear solution to stopping illegal immigration at the German-Austrian border.

“I am glad that this agreement has been reached. It has once again become clear that it is worth fighting for a conviction. And what follows now is a very sustainable and clear agreement for the future. The agreement meets my expectations on all three points,” Germany’s Interior Minister elaborated.

German Chancellor Merkel, who seemingly had to make concessions in order to prevent Seehofer’s resignation, expressed satisfaction with the agreement describing it as “a really good compromise after a hard struggle.”

“This (deal) preserves the spirit of partnership in the European Union and at the same time is a decisive step towards organizing and controlling secondary migration,” she stated.

Seehofer has been a strong critic of Merkel’s migration policy since late 2015 when the latter famously decided that incoming migrants should be let into the Germany.

The leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) became Interior Minister in Germany’s fourth Cabinet in March 2018.

Seehofer has attempted to implement a “master plan” on migration consisting of 63 provisions. The main bone of contention with Merkel has been the provision calling for Germany to keep out migrants already registered in another EU member state.

Merkel has been pushing for EU-wide solutions instead but has failed to achieve clear-cut results with the other EU member states.

The crisis in the German government was sharpened by Seehofer’s intention to use his powers as Interior Minister in order to introduce national border checks regardless of Merkel’s disagreement.

While the decades-long alliance between the two center-right sister parties, CDU and CSU, appears to have been saved for the time being as a result of the Merkel – Seehofer deal, the third partner in Germany’s ruling coalition, the leftist SPD party, has not made clear its position yet.

After the deal was struck, the CDU, CSU, and SPD went into a tripartite meeting that continued into the early hours on Tuesday.

Past midnight, Andrea Nahles, head of the SPD group, said a number of issues still had to be clarified for her party to accept the Merkel – Seehofer deal.

“We find [the compromise] good because we are now back on a practical level. That’s something we sorely missed in recent weeks. We’ll take the time we need to come to a decision,” Nahles said, making it clear that the discussions are expected to continue on Tuesday evening.

(Banner image: TV grab from DW)

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