Merkel Wins Space in Migration Rift Stalking Her Coalition

(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s antagonists dialed back a clash over migration, saying they don’t want to blow up the party alliance underpinning her government.

Comments by leaders of the Christian Social Union, a Merkel-allied regional party that governs Bavaria and wants to tighten border security, take some of the sting out of days of attacks on the chancellor. Merkel is hosting leaders of the CSU and her Social Democratic coalition partner later Tuesday to try to keep the coalition crisis from spiraling out of control.

At stake is the alliance at the national level between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its CSU sister party, which is vowing to block certain asylum seekers at the German border unless Merkel crafts a European plan to limit migration. Merkel has rejected unilateral action by Germany and, despite the conciliatory comments, the CSU isn’t backing off its demand either.

“The CDU and CSU are bound together by fate,” Alexander Dobrindt, the CSU’s parliamentary group leader in the lower house, or Bundestag, told reporters in Berlin. “Our goal is to keep it that way.”

Merkel said coalition leaders will discuss a “master plan” on migration drafted by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who heads the CSU. The government clash is about one point that calls for rejecting migrants at the border if they’re registered as asylum seekers in another EU country, a proposal Merkel has rejected.

“We have a generally positive position when it comes to the master plan and the majority of its points,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin alongside Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Seehofer, who has said he may force the issue by wielding his ministerial power to push through the disputed border-security measure, told Focus Online it’s unrealistic to think that the collapse of Merkel’s coalition is imminent.

Merkel’s closed-door coalition meeting is part of the buildup to a two-day European Union summit starting Thursday where she’ll seek to enlist key partners to strengthen control over migration flows to Europe without closing borders between EU countries.

Merkel reiterated that a comprehensive EU package on migration will take “a bit of time” and European efforts should be bolstered by accords between individual governments.

“Those countries that are willing to cooperate can work together in all the dimensions of migration policy,” Merkel said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.