BERLIN, GERMANY.- Germany’s interior minister insisted that his party has no intention of bringing down Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government, amid uncertainty Sunday over chances of a solution to a bitter standoff over migration.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is calling for Germany to turn back at its border migrants who have registered as asylum-seekers in other European countries.
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Merkel opposes unilateral action, arguing that it would weaken the 28-nation European Union. The issue has escalated into a high-stakes power struggle. Seehofer leads the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union party, the sister party to Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union.
His party holds a leadership meeting Monday which could authorize Seehofer to push through his demand. If he actually does so unilaterally in defiance of the chancellor, many observers believe Merkel would likely have to fire him — which in turn could effectively end her current governing coalition and the conservative parties’ decades-old alliance in national politics.
The two parties govern with the centerleft Social Democrats. However it ends, the spat has laid bare the limits of Merkel’s authority in a fractious government that took office in March after nearly six months of postelection haggling. The CSU’s top priority is a difficult October state election in Bavaria in which it is trying to tamp down support for the anti-migration Alternative for Germany party.
Bavarian governor Markus Soeder and the party’s top federal lawmaker, Alexander Dobrindt, have been even more vehement than Seehofer in demanding immediate action on migration. Soeder has talked of a need to end “asylum tourism.”