German SPD Cites Progress Toward Backing Merkel's Migration Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s Social Democrats said they’re moving toward a possible deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel to back a policy shift on migration that avoided a breakup of her own party bloc.

Differences remained after Merkel and her Bavarian sister party presented the updated refugee policy to the Social Democrats, her junior coalition partner, during a meeting late Tuesday in Berlin. The three parties plan to resume talks on Thursday.

“We had intense talks and we did make progress,” SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles told reporters after the meeting at Merkel’s chancellery. “But we aren’t quite on the same page yet. That’s why more talks will be held this week.”

The compromise on Monday between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its more conservative CSU ally, which governs the Bavaria region, averted a split of an alliance that’s governed Germany for most of the time since World War II. Both sides pulled back from the brink as they risked unraveling Merkel’s chancellorship after almost 13 years.

In a partial concession to the CSU’s demands for Germany to do more to curb migration, the plan calls for holding centers to be set up at the border, notably the one with Austria.

No ‘Mass Camps’

The Social Democrats have opposed similar proposals in the past. Lars Klingbeil, the party’s general secretary, said Wednesday that “many questions” remain.

“I am sure that as a coalition we can find solutions and answers, but the SPD will not support mass camps where refugees are locked up for weeks,” Klingbeil said in an interview with ZDF television.

Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat who is Merkel’s finance minister and deputy chancellor, told reporters the SPD wants a precise, “legally air-tight solution.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.