German interior minister 'offers to resign' over migrants

Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Union Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, center, arrives to deliver a statement after a party leadership meeting at the CDU headquarters in Berlin, on July 1, 2018.

Her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has threatened to resign.

From the beginning, the challenge presented by the immigration crisis has been about more than just procedures and raw numbers (or as one resident of a small German town put it, "how do you integrate 150 refugees in Abensberg?").

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But soon after, Seehofer said he would hold last-ditch talks with Merkel's CDU "in hopes of reaching an understanding". "The German government has truly made a mountain out of a molehill", said Gerald Knaus, the architect of the 2015 migration deal between the European Union and Turkey.

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.

Their two "sister parties" agreed to set up transit centers for asylum seekers on the Austrian border to prevent those registered in other countries from entering Germany.

It drew immediate fire from critics, such us Bernd Riexinger of the opposition far-left Die Linke party, who on Twitter slammed the plan for what he labelled "mass internment camps" and judged that "humanity got lost along the way".

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The compromise deal between Merkel and Seehofer suggests refugees arriving at the Austrian-Bavarian border who were first registered in European Union states that now refuse to take them back, such as Hungary, should be sent back to Austria.

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

After facing push-back over her long-held open-door policies that have allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into her country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave in on Monday.

The CSU's showdown with Merkel comes as it faces an October state election in Bavaria in which it fears losing its cherished absolute majority.

The transit centre scheme was proposed in 2015 by a CSU politician, Stephan Mayer, but was rejected in the strongest terms by the Social Democratic party (SPD), then and now a junior partner in Merkel's grand coalition government.

To politically survive, Merkel could attempt a 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.

"We have many open questions", said Nahles, whose lawmakers discussed the deal on Tuesday.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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