Horst Seehofer: Bavarian hardliner turned Merkel nemesis

German coalition teeters as minister offers to resign over migrants

The German interior minister says a compromise has been reached on Monday in a migration dispute that threatened Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

Merkel needs the backing of both her junior coalition partner and fellow European Union states if the plan to limit the number of asylum seekers arriving in Europe's most prosperous economy is to succeed.

Among the proposals is a plan to send back to Austria asylum seekers arriving in Germany who can not be returned to their countries of entry into the European Union.

"Should this agreement become the German government's position, we see that as prompting us to take action to prevent negative consequences for Austria and its population", Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a joint statement with two far-right cabinet members, asking Berlin to clarify its stance.

At the national level, Merkel also proposed that migrants arriving in Germany who first registered in another European Union country should be placed in special "admissions centers" under restrictive conditions, according to a document she sent to the CSU and the Socialists. Under EU law, those people must be taken in and arrangements made on a case by case basis to send them back to the first country of entry.

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

Austria said it would be prepared to take similar measures to block asylum seekers at its southern borders, with the risk of a domino effect in Europe.

Migrants would be held in new detention centres, with those found to have first-entered the European Union in, for instance, Italy, turned back "on the basis of an agreement with the Republic of Austria".

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In a message to skeptics at home, she added that "we can't act as though the issue of defense weren't a pressing one in our time".

Nevertheless, the anti-refugee, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) was propelled into federal parliament for the first time past year by outrage over immigration, leading to months of paralysis while Merkel struggled to put together a workable coalition. However, sources within the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suggested that Seehofer had offered to resign both as leader of the CSU and as interior minister.

"We don't need masterplans, we need good craftsmanship", Andrea Nahles, head of the SPD said.

Amidst all the internecine fighting among conservatives, it has been easy to forget that there is also a third party involved: the Social Democrats.

At a press conference with his coalition partners in Vienna, Mr Kurz spoke out against Ms Merkel's "Welcome Culture" towards migrants of 2015 and said the European Union must take steps to protect its external borders against migrants.

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder, almost as influential within the CSU as Seehofer himself, has greeted the results from Merkel's Brussels meeting, saying they pointed in the "right direction".

The public approval has been largely in favor of Merkel's policies since 2015 but the support started to wane as the country began experiencing problems absorbing the new residents, the Times reported.

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