German Chancellor Angela Merkel hangs onto power after last-minute deal over immigration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hangs onto power after last-minute deal over immigration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hangs onto power after last-minute deal over immigration

Only once before has the cooperation been at risk - in 1976 when Bavarian leader Franz Josef Strauss thought the CSU would fare better in elections if it were free of the CDU.

The border deal, hailed by the German chancellor as a "good compromise", foresees setting up so-called transit centres on the southern border, where asylum seekers who have already been registered in other European Union countries will be held until they can be sent back to those countries.

Seehofer and Merkel are in a dispute over Germany's asylum policy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer arrive for a CDU/CSU fraction meeting in Berlin, Germany, July 3, 2018.

Mr. Seehofer on Sunday rejected as insufficient an European Union plan to limit migrant flows backed by Ms. Merkel and her party.

The agreement still needs the approval of the Social Democrats.

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Over recent days, speculation had focused on the possibility that Merkel would fire Seehofer if he went ahead unilaterally with his plan.

The threat - and Seehofer's subsequent warning he may resign - had raised the spectre of an imminent break in the seven-decade-long partnership between their conservative CDU and CSU parties.

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. But in comments to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, he complained that he was in an "inconceivable" situation.

"And then Chancellor Merkel is entitled to dismiss her minister of interior".

German politicians who criticized the agreement say Merkel and her conservatives had abandoned the country's moral mission.

The proposal - which must still be approved by the third party in Merkel's coalition, the Social Democrats - would also require that any immigrants entering Germany who had already applied for asylum in another European Union country would not be allowed to stay.

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It is the impending Bavarian state election in October that forced Mr. Seehofer's hand in seeking a confrontation on the migration issue. Securing the consent of other European Union countries was crucial, she said, adding: "That's why I consider the deal for now as an uncovered cheque".

But he also struck a conciliatory tone, saying "there is an abundance of possibilities ... for compromises", without specifying what they were.

One possibility is for the 70-year-old CDU and CSU alliance to split which would rob Merkel of her parliamentary majority.

That would be "against our values, worldwide law and European law ... we are well aware of the inhumane situation for many migrants in Libya", an EU commission spokesowman said.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of the CSU leadership, said that Merkel's rejections of compromises submitted by Seehofer suggested she was happy to see him go.

"The sum of all we've agreed is equivalent to what the CSU wants", she said.

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