Merkel’s Leftist Partners Balk at Approving Hard Won Migrant Deal with Seehofer
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is part of Merkel’s ruling coalition, has failed to approve quickly the hard won migrant deal struck between the embattled Chancellor and her conservative coalition partner, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
A tripartite meeting held on Tuesday evening between Merkel’s ruling CDU, its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, and the SPD, did not produce the expected result in which the Social Democrats would greenlight the agreement reached by the other two ruling coalition partners.
On Monday, after weeks of simmering conflict with her Interior Minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acquiesced to his demands.
She agreed to the introduction of a new border regime at the German – Austrian border, and on setting up “transit centers” enabling the German authorities to turn back any asylum seekers who have already been registered in another EU member state.
While the Merkel – Seehofer deal has rescued the decades-long alliance between the CDU and the CSU, it is yet to be approved by the third partner in Germany’s ruling coalition, the SPD.
After Tuesday night’s meeting, the Social Democrats said they would need more time to consider the agreement, DW reports.
“We couldn’t answer all the questions concerning migration that need to be answered, but we did make some important progress,” said SPD Deputy Chairman and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
Scholz, SPD Chairwoman Andrea Nahles and other leaders met with their conservative counterparts. He made it clear that further intra-coalition migrant agreement talks would take place on Thursday.
One issue the Social Democrats have with the Merkel – Seehofer deal is that their party was already adamantly opposed against the establishment of transit centers for asylum seekers back in 2015.
At the time, the SPD was once again part of Merkel’s ruling right – left “grand coalition”.
Back then SPD leaders including now-Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Ex-Foreign Minister and former Party Chairman Sigmar Gabriel and Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil described the potential transit centers as “gigantic prisons” and “mass camps in no man’s land.”
“The SPD has won the day. Transit zones are off the table. No house arrest, no fences,” Gabriel wrote on Twitter back then, DW reminds.
Before Tuesday night’s meeting, SPD leader Nahles declared that her party rejected “this concept” of transit centers, which has given observers a reason to believe that in the very least the Social Democrats will insist on a change in the name for the facilities in question.
At least part of the SPD party, or what is described as its “left wing”, is opposed to the Merkel – Seehofer deal.
“The SPD has clearly said no to closed camps,” the influential head of the Social Democrats’ youth wing, Kevin Kühnert, told German television.
“It doesn’t matter whether they’re in North Africa, on the external border of Europe or in Passau,” he declared.
(Banner image: Flickr)