Germany migrant row threatens Merkel coalition

Germany migrant row threatens Merkel coalition

Merkel opposed the measure, Mr. Seehofer, in a rare revolt by a minister against the head of the German government, on Tuesday canceled the planned presentation of his plan, declaring the measure integral to any attempt at bringing illegal immigration under control.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struggled on Thursday to find a compromise on migrant policy with her rebelling Bavarian allies, hoping to avert a crisis in her coalition just three months after it took power. "We are in a very serious situation", estimated CSU parliamentary chief Alexander Dobrindt. Then Merkel agreed to keep Germany's borders open, allowing nearly a million refugees to enter Germany amid dispute and disarray across Europe as many governments refused to cooperate. She argues that doing this could result in other countries doing the same and that a European-wide solution is the best approach.

The Chancellor suggested Seehofer and Sodero a compromise is a bilateral agreement between the European Union countries most affected by the influx of migrants and asylum seekers, such as Italy and Greece.

Veteran CSU politician Hans-Peter Friedrich was optimistic the dispute would be settled, telling broadcaster RTL there was agreement on 62 of the 63 points in Seehofer's plan, adding: "There's still a problem on one point but we'll manage it".

Many conservatives held that policy responsible for a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), the main opposition party since national elections in September. Of these, some 30 percent could end up being turned back at the border if current European Union rules on asylum are applied, according to German officials. "Germany can not wait endlessly for Europe, but must act independently", tweeted Bavaria's hardline premier Markus Soeder.

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On Wednesday Austria's right-wing chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said after talks with Mr Seehofer that the interior ministers of Austria, Germany and Italy had formed an "axis of the willing" to combat illegal immigration. An ARD poll on Thursday found that 62 percent of Germans believe refugees without papers should not be allowed in. Merkel has warned that such a move could shift the burden onto countries such as Italy and Greece.

Germany'snew government has yet to hit the 100-day mark, but a showdown over migration in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition threatens to widen divides within the bloc and fuel Euroscepticism overseas.

"Merkel all alone!" wrote Bild daily on Thursday, reporting that support for her argument on this issue had all but evaporated within her conservative bloc.

Merkel, as the EU's longest serving leader, expressed deep concern over bitter divisions within the bloc about how to deal with waves of people fleeing war and misery landing on the shores of the bloc or dying en route. In a rare convergence of views, the SPD and AfD both dismissed the row as an election maneuver.

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