Merkel Fails to End Coalition Rift on Migrants Ahead of EU Talks
(Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel failed to resolve a clash over migration with her Bavarian sister party, ratcheting up pressure on the German chancellor as she faces a weekend ultimatum to tighten borders.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union is seeking to contain a rebellion by Bavaria’s ruling CSU party, which is taking a hard line on immigration ahead of a regional election in October. The conflict risks tearing apart their long-standing alliance, threatening Merkel’s three-month-old coalition government.
Leaders of CDU and the Social Democrats, the junior coalition partner, said no headway was made on migration in talks in Berlin late Tuesday. In her search for a solution, Merkel is looking to a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday to help her craft measures to tighten border security at the EU’s outer borders.
The situation is “very serious” and that was apparent during the closed-door party summit, Volker Kauder, the head of the CDU-CSU parliamentary caucus, said Wednesday on ARD television. No agreement had been expected because officials are meeting again to discuss immigration on Sunday, Kauder said, insisting government business would not be disrupted in the meantime.
“As long as we are talking to each other and discussing how to go forward there is always reason to hope that we will get a result,” Kauder said. “It’s not just about a trifle, but something very central and important.”
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who heads the CSU, has vowed to use his federal law-enforcement powers to send back certain asylum seekers at Germany’s borders if Merkel doesn’t reach agreements with European Union partners by the end of June. Merkel rejects the border proposal, setting up a potential split that could leave her without a parliamentary majority.
While chastising the CDU and CSU for their conflict, SPD head Andrea Nahles said Tuesday’s meeting had been “an important interim step” toward finding a solution.
“This is about the government for the whole of Germany, but also about European issues,” Nahles said in an interview with n-tv television. In the talks, the SPD proposed a system of processing asylum seekers within a week, which would allow authorities to reject some applicants without closing Germany’s borders, she said.
Asked whether the SPD was preparing for possible new elections, Nahles said: “I don’t know yet. I tell you honestly, let’s wait and see. I can’t solve the conflict between the CDU and the CSU.”
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