German political crisis: Angela Merkel is the great survivor once more

Saul Bowman
July 4, 2018

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rebellious interior minister, Horst Seehofer, reached a compromise on migration at nearly literally the eleventh hour Monday, averting a government crisis for the time being.

A folksy master of Bavaria's conservative beer hall politics, Horst Seehofer has become the most risky critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's immigration policies and the man who could end her reign.

In such a circumstance, Merkel would no longer have a parliamentary majority, and consequently, there would be new elections, Patzelt explains.

One day into the job he caused a headline-grabbing stir by declaring that "Islam is not part of Germany", contradicting Merkel and rekindling a divisive debate about cultural identity.

Some Social Democrats accuse the CSU of wanting to appear tough on immigration before a regional election in Bavaria in October where the conservatives are expected to lose voters to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party.

Merkel, Seehofer, Nahles and senior members of their parties met in the chancellery on Tuesday evening to discuss the plan.

Merkel and the Christian Democrats adamantly opposed that approach, arguing it was imperative to involve other European Union nations in devising an effective new migration policy.

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. In a meeting with his party leaders on Sunday night, Seehofer offered to resign from his ministerial role and party leadership, reports said.


However, criticism from Vienna and her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), threatened to throw a spanner in the works.

"We are the second biggest provider of troops, we are participating in several missions and Germany will remain a reliable partner of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation", she said.

Although the move to appease the conservatives exposed her growing political weakness, Ms. Merkel will limp on as chancellor.

Almost three years have passed since German Chancellor Angela Merkel first made the famous declaration that "Wir schaffen das", or "we can do this", in response to a massive influx of asylum seekers from Syria and other Asian and African countries who had become trapped in Hungary. He's called for Germany to turn away migrants who have already been denied asylum in Germany or have previously sought asylum elsewhere in Europe.

In a sign of mounting frustration, Seehofer reportedly told CSU colleagues that he "travelled especially to Berlin but the chancellor is moving zero point zero" per cent with her stance.

Speaking ahead of an EU summit last week, Merkel - a staunch advocate of EU-wide solutions - said migration could be a "make or break" issue for the union. The party blocked a similar proposal for migrant processing centres on the border in 2015.

But the European Union is divided over the proposal, as countries including Luxembourg and Ireland are loath to see United States tech giants head for the exit.

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