Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Germany’s Angela Merkel faces off with allies over migration

Germany’s Angela Merkel faces off with allies over migration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to build migrant border camps and tighten up her country's border with Austria.

Seehofer, who heads the Christian Social Union, sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats, had threatened to resign if Merkel wouldn't agree to turn away refugees who had been registered in another EU country.

In high-stakes crisis talks on Monday, Ms. Merkel put to rest for now a unsafe row with a longtime rival, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, that had threatened the survival of her shaky 100-day-old coalition.

"We have reached an agreement after very intense negotiations", Seehofer announced after reportedly tense negotiations on Monday, Agence France Press reported on Tuesday.

Austria has said it will follow Germany in turning back asylum seekers, in widening ripples from Europe's political migration crisis.

Mr Seehofer wanted to turn such migrants away immediately at the border, but Ms Merkel argued that would cause a crisis as other European Union states refused to take them. Seehofer is staying on as interior minister, a post that gives him federal border enforcement powers.

Patzelt points out that what Merkel "sells as a threat to European integration" is considered by Seehofer and the CSU as a suitable means of stopping immigration to Germany and to Europe.

The deal still requires the consent of Merkel's other coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats, to become government policy.

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Merkel also secured agreement from Greece and Spain to take back from Germany migrants who previously registered in those countries. If not, the rejected applicants are expected to be returned to Austria, although the two countries have yet to negotiate this.

Patzelt says he doesn't see any solution to the situation unless both of them see reason: "I can hardly imagine any wording of compromise which would avoid one of them losing the face".

The new policy is a compromise that allowed Merkel and Seehofer to defuse their confrontation.

Facing a state election in October, the Bavaria-only CSU hopes to win back votes eroded by the anti-migration Alternative fuer Deutschland and prevent the bordering state from being further impacted by migration.

Up until Monday, Merkel remained unabated defender of her approach to the migrant crisis rocking the continent. His ultimatum forced Ms. Merkel to seek a European Union mini-summit the previous weekend and diverted the scheduled European Union summit this past weekend to an all-night crisis meeting on the migration issue.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund, said Merkel's political capital is depleted. Last week, an FG Wahlen survey said 91% favour European solutions on migration, an endorsement of Merkel's line and a snub to Bavaria's nationalist push for unilateral border measures.

A real possibility is a break up of the 70-year alliance between the CSU and Merkel's CDU. What's more, Merkel is ranked as the second most trusted politician in Germany, attracting 47 percent support compared to 32 percent for Seehofer, 24 percent for Söder and only 17 percent for Dobrindt.

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