Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Angela Merkel has ditched her open-door refugee policy to save her government

EU leaders agreed at last week’s summit to build migrant detention centres EU leaders agreed at last week’s summit to build migrant detention centres
Lance Thomas | 04 July, 2018, 06:35

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer offered to quit his Cabinet post and the chairmanship of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) at a party meeting on Sunday.

German chancellor Angela Merkel halted the immediate threat of a government breakup in Europe's biggest economy, crafting a plan to tighten migration and keep her Bavarian sister party in the fold.

The CSU party boss and now the head of Germany's newly christened interior and homeland ministry has deemed inadequate the European Union deals reached by Merkel allowing the return of some asylum seekers.

The Social Democrats, who rejected a similar plan three years ago, withheld their immediate consent and European Union states must also agree to take migrants back.

Angela Merkel returned from Brussels with an agreement forged, or critics would say fudged, with her European counterparts about the handling of refugees and migrants.

In effect, the likely outcome of the deal is as Dr Merkel wished - a European one.

A sharply weaker euro was an indication that the market was not very hopeful that an exit by Seehofer could be avoided‚ placing Merkel's three-month old - and carefully constructed - coalition in jeopardy.

It was a spectacular turnabout for a leader who has been seen as the standard-bearer of the liberal European order but who has come under intense pressure at home from the far right and from conservatives in her governing coalition over her migration policy.

In particular, she still has to work with CSU leader and German Interior Minister Seehofer, with whom she has had several showdowns on different aspects of migrant policy.

Rome's hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has stressed that his overburdened country is not ready to take in any more migrants.

The Social Democrats, who have largely been bystanders so far, demanded that their coalition partners get their act together, and called for a meeting later Monday with the conservative leaders.

But after hours of tense negotiations, the Associated Press reported Seehofer emerged from talks saying he had reached a compromise with Merkel and that he would remain in his positions.

In an extremely fluid situation, Merkel and Seehofer are due to meet later in the day and before that, a joint session of the parliamentary groups of the CSU and CDU is due to take place, although there was some doubt if it would go ahead.

The most important factor for her survival is probably how long her own CDU lawmakers stand by her, and for now they are.

"It's not about who comes out on top, but about what's right", Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder told the CSU gathering, according to news agency DPA.

The Social Democrats said Monday there was no guarantee they would back whatever compromise the CSU and CDU might find.

Nevertheless, the anti-refugee, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) was propelled into federal parliament for the first time past year by outrage over immigration, leading to months of paralysis while Merkel struggled to put together a workable coalition.

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