Published: Mon, July 02, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

German Interior Minister offers to resign over asylum policy

German Interior Minister offers to resign over asylum policy

Mr Seehofer said the deal was affecting the "credibility" of his role as party leader and warned he saw "no alternative" but to turn back some migrants at the German border.

The three-week stand-off has raised questions of whether Mrs Merkel's government will survive.

If Seehofer does quit, the CSU could offer a replacement interior minister if it aims to remain tied to Merkel's CDU party.

CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said earlier that party leaders were "united" behind Merkel and "effective, humane solutions together with our European partners".

Speaking at his party's annual gathering Sunday, Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister and leader of the anti-immigrant League party said he wanted to create a pan-European association of like-minded parties, Reuters reported, a further indication that nationalist forces are gaining strength.

Seehofer heads the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian-only sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in Germany's conservative government.

Leaders said they would consider setting up "disembarkation platforms" outside the European Union, most likely in North Africa, in a bid to discourage migrants and refugees boarding EU-bound smuggler boats.

A document she sent to the CSU and SPD also outlined deals with 16 other countries to return already-registered migrants if they reached Germany.

There were fresh signs on Sunday that the two leaders, entrenched in their positions, may fail to resolve their differences. The AfD that swept into Parliament previous year on a wave of anti-migrant sentiment is staging a march Sunday through the heart of Berlin to protest against the government.

The CSU tried for weeks to get Mrs Merkel to agree to reject asylum seekers at the border if they had already registered in other countries or to get a similar deal from the European Union by 1 July.

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In the third - and least likely option - Seehofer would resign and the CSU would leave government, "the nuclear option", according to Traugott.

But she announced after the European Union summit that she had also reached separate agreements with Spain and Greece on taking back asylum-seekers.

Leaders and MPs from the Bavarian party will meet in Munich to decide their response, while Merkel and her top lieutenants will gather in Berlin.

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.

"I can't see what Merkel could realistically give him now that would be meaningful", he said.

Ahead of a hard Bavarian state election in October, the CSU is determined to show it is tough on migration. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

The CDU has 200 seats and the CSU 46.

Merkel, now barely 100 days into her fourth term, faced a backlash from the conservative CSU after allowing more than one million asylum-seekers into Germany since 2015.

Instead, he reportedly offered to step down, a move that could provide temporary respite for Merkel but that may spell the end for the decades-old CDU/CSU alliance and for the coalition government. But earlier, Bavaria's premier Markus Soeder, mindful of the October regional elections, was positive.

Differences with the CSU only pertained to the way how to achieve a reduction in migration, not to the goal as such, Merkel said.

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