German Interior Minister threatens resignation amid immigration policy dispute

2 July 2018

German Interior Minister threatens resignation amid immigration policy dispute

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has given Chancellor Angela Merkel an ultimatum, threatening to resign unless she accepts his demands for tougher immigration controls.

This is the latest development in the conflict that could shatter the coalition between Mr Seehofer’s Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) and Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), which has been at the heart of German politics for nearly 70 years.

The parties’ dispute over Germany’s refugee policy could lead to the collapse of Ms Merkel’s coalition government, just three months after it came into office.

Mr Seehofer told the CSU party executive on Sunday that he would resign as both Interior Minister and leader of the CSU, but his party colleagues persuaded him to try resolving the differences with the CDU one last time.

Ms Merkel’s decision to leave Germany’s borders open during the height of the September 2015 refugee crisis led to a falling out between the coalition party leaders, and they continue to hold divergent views on the country’s refugee policy.

The latest dispute arose after Ms Merkel rejected Mr Seehofer’s proposal that German border police be given the power to turn away asylum seekers if they are already registered in other EU countries.

Ms Merkel rejected the proposal because, she claimed, it would undermine European unity and the Schengen passport-free travel zone.

Mr Seehofer has given Ms Merkel a fortnight to come up with a pan-European solution.

At the EU summit in Brussels last week, Ms Merkel helped negotiate measures that address some of Mr Seehofer’s concerns, but the Interior Minister rejected these as “inadequate” and “not as effective” as his own proposals.

Mr Seehofer’s resignation is one of three approaches he outlined to his colleagues, the others being that the CSU accepts Ms Merkel’s policy, or that he orders the controls anyway, which which could spell the end of the alliance.

His resignation could prevent the collapse of the German government.

Ms Merkel indicated on Sunday that has continued to consider the CSU’s views.

“I want the CDU and CSU to work together, because are a success story for our country,” the Chancellor said.