German interior minister 'offers to resign' over migrants

Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer in happer times at a September 2017 campaign rally

The compromise came after lawmakers from both conservative parties in the German coalition urged the Chancellor and her interior minister on Monday to resolve the dispute over migrant policy that has thrown her three-month-old government into disarray.

The CSU had threatened tighter border controls which Merkel rejected, insisting on a European solution.

Merkel called the proposal a "good compromise".

If Seehofer does quit, the CSU could offer a replacement interior minister if it aims to remain tied to Merkel's CDU party.

Under the new deal, migrants who have already applied for asylum in other European Union countries will be held in transit centres on the border while Germany negotiates bilateral deals for their return.

Mrs Merkel got backing from both parties at a parliamentary meeting on Monday.

Mr. Seehofer on Sunday rejected as insufficient an European Union plan to limit migrant flows backed by Ms. Merkel and her party. It has once again proved to be worth fighting to a conviction. He praised 70 years of unity between the two centre-right parties, German media reported.

Diplomats in Brussels said the bloc could not reject an agreement that bolstered its most powerful government.

Opinion polls suggest that, in the event of a fresh election, the SPD would not profit from the CDU-CSU rift over migration. SPD leader Andrea Nahles said there's still "a lot that needs to be discussed".

Instead, the chancellor, who's been bogged down in bickering with the immigration hardliner since the start of her fourth term, agreed to set up "transit centers" for asylum seekers.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Passau in Bavaria was on the frontline of Europe's 2015 migrant crisis How did the events unfold?

Protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, CDU general-secretary, may eventually take over but analysts say her profile is too low for the CDU to back her and Jens Spahn, her biggest critic within the party, is not popular enough with voters.

Seehofer's power over Merkel stems from an agreement under which the CSU replaces Merkel's CDU in Bavaria, Germany's largest and wealthiest state and home to BMW, Siemens and Adidas and football champions Bayern Munich.

Mr. Seehofer, after talks with Ms. Merkel on Saturday evening, complained the conversation was "ineffective" as the chancellor refused to budge her position on the European Union deal.

Though the heated showdown is by far the worst yet between Seehofer and Merkel, it is by no means the first provoked by the Bavarian former state premier who is known for his unvarnished straight talk and political brinkmanship.

European Union leaders reached a much-needed deal on steps to tackle migration after resolving a bitter row with Italy's inexperienced prime minister.

"The blame game between CDU and CSU must end, because it is irresponsible", she said. They argued such zones would not limit the number of migrants given that most were fleeing wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan and therefore entitled to asylum in Germany.

Merkel's other coalition, the Social Democratic Party, has yet to agree to the deal.

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