Merkel’s Cabinet in Jeopardy as Interior Minister Seehofer Threatens to Resign in Migrant Crisis Row
The fate of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet hangs in the balance as Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who is also the leader of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkle’s ruling CDU, has threatened to resign because of disagreements over migrant policy.
The possibility of Seehofer’s resignation comes in the wake of a deepening rift between the Chancellor and Seehofer who has been insisting on tougher policies on asylum seekers against the backdrop of the growing influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa since 2015.
Speaking at a closed-door meeting of fellow leaders of the Bavarian CSU party, Horst Seehofer declared he wanted to resign as both Germany’s Interior Minister and party leader, AFP reports citing its own sources who attended the meeting.
The Bavarian leader argued that he had “no support” with respect to the measures he had been insisting upon.
If Seehofer resigns, it remains unclear whether the CSU would propose a substitute for the position of Interior Minister in Merkel’s fourth Cabinet, or whether that would mean an end to the decades-long alliance between the conservative CDU and its Bavarian sister party.
The latter development would deprive Merkel of her parliamentary majority, and cast major doubts on the future of her Cabinet.
Yet, the German Chancellor could still attempt to run a minority government or to find new coalition partners such as the liberal Free Democrats or the Greens as an addition to her current coalition with the Socialists (SPD).
Seehofer’s potential resignation remains a matter of continued talks with Merkel and the CDU, and CSU parliamentary group leader Alexander Dobrindt is quoted as saying that the conservative Bavarian party “does not want to accept” its leader’s resignation.”
The threat looming over Merkel’s Cabinet stemming from the Bavarians’ discontent with migrant policies comes in the wake of Friday’s meeting of the EU leaders in Brussels which resulted in an agreement on new measures to reduce immigration to the European Union.
These include provisions to reduce what is described as “secondary migration”, i.e. the movement of asylum seekers between the EU member states.
The EU leaders made it clear they wanted to establish “disembarkation platforms”, i.e. migrant reception centers, most probably in North Africa.
Nonetheless, a number of the European Union’s neighbors – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Niger as well as Albania – have been quick to refuse to host such facilities.
Another propose measure is creating processing centers in EU countries in order to decide if arriving migrants should be treated as economic immigrants or as refugees entitled to protection.
In a letter sent to her coalition partners, the CSU and the leftist SPD, Merkel also proposed placing migrants arriving in Germany in restrictive “admission centers”.
Another measure outlined in the letter for tackling the migrant crisis on Germany’s behalf are agreements with 16 other EU member states to receive back migrants registered on their soil if they made it to Germany.
CSU leader and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, however, has demanded that asylum seekers registered in other EU states should not even be admitted into Germany. According to the cited sources, he has expressed doubts that Merkel’s EU-wide measures would “have the same effect”.
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