Germany: Government Reaches Compromise on Immigration

Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the German parliament Bundestag

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have settled a row over migration that had threatened to topple her fragile governing coalition, after talks with her rebellious Interior Minister led him to drop his threat to resign.

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. Polls indicate the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), would be among the biggest winners, an unpalatable outcome for Merkel and all other parties.

According to a paper of the agreement distributed by CSU politician Minister of State for Digitization Dorothee Baer, the two parties agreed to introduce new border regime on the border between Germany and Austria, in a bid to prevent asylum seekers registered in other European Union states from entering Germany.

Seehofer, 68, has been a headache for Merkel, especially over her open-door migrant policy, and the last three years have been punctuated by a series of showdowns between the two.

The tension between the two had been building up over the last month, with Seehofer agreeing to give Merkel until the European Union summit to come up with an acceptable solution.

Sources said Seehofer had not yet submitted the resignation and that some in the party were attempting to change his mind over the decision.

Two weeks ago, he gave Ms Merkel an ultimatum to find a European solution to irregular migration by today, or he would turn migrants back at the border against her wishes.

The CSU's leadership were tight-lipped as they arrived at their party's Munich headquarters to discuss Merkel's deals.

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Over recent days, speculation had focused on the possibility that Merkel would fire Seehofer if he went ahead unilaterally with his plan.

Merkel could run an unstable minority government, seek a new coalition partner in the ecologist Greens or pro-business Free Democrats, or orchestrate a no-confidence vote in parliament that could trigger new elections.

Germany's dpa news agency, citing unidentified people present at the CSU meeting, reported that Seehofer told the forum he thinks the measures do not adequately accomplish what he is seeking.

By Monday morning, there were already signs that some CSU officials regretted the extent to which their colleagues had jeopardized national cohesion for a reelection strategy that does not seem to be paying off. Markus Söder, the Bavarian state premier - as well as Seehofer's rival in the party - told reporters Monday that he was "very surprised" about Seehofer's offer to step down.

"I won't let myself be fired by a chancellor who is only chancellor because of me", he was quoted as saying in an apparent reference to the CSU's traditionally strong election results in Bavaria.

"The sum of all we've agreed is equivalent to what the CSU wants", she said. He insisted the CSU doesn't want to break up the conservative partnership.

The clash between Merkel and Seehofer, who is also the leader of the Bavarian conservatives in Merkel's coalition, escalated after eight hours of talks on Monday failed to resolve a stand-off over a policy that would affect relatively few migrants but has become deeply political. Party leader Andrea Nahles said that "the CSU is on a unsafe ego trip that is paralyzing Germany and Europe".

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