Sunday, July 01, 2018

Germany’s CSU chief Horst Seehofer offers to resign

Germany’s ruling coalition is in crisis after Horst Seehofer, the country’s interior minister and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), announced his intention to resign this morning. Mr Seehofer reportedly made the announcement to the CSU leadership, adding that he also wants to step down as leader of the party. Mr Seehofer’s hardline approach to migration had put him at odds with long standing political partners, the CDU and chancellor Angela Merkel, particularly on the provocative issue of the return of economic migrants and those who have registered in other safe countries before entering Germany. The immediate impact of Mr Seehofer’s resignation is unknown and it is uncertain if political leaders will try and convince him to stay on. But if it sparks a break up of the ruling coalition, Mrs Merkel will lose her majority in the parliament and the parliament could call for fresh elections. Mr Seehofer had been increasingly frustrated at Mrs Merkel’s immigration policies, particularly since her 2015 open invitation to migrants resulted in more than 1.6m arrivals. The social upheaval has seen a strong swing to the far right in Bavaria, where the CSU is fighting upcoming elections. Mrs Merkel has been fighting for her political future for months and Mr Seehofer gave her an ultimatum a fortnight ago to adopt a tougher stance to keep the CDU-CSU alliance together. She appeared confident on Friday after securing a deal with EU counterparts. However Mr Seehofer wasn’t convinced that Mrs Merkel’s new deal would stop refugees cherrypicking countries and moving throughout the EU at will. Mrs Merkel had convinced the EU member states to “call on all necessary internal lawful and administrative processes in order to prevent such movements, and should collaborate closely on this issue.” She also struck bilateral deals with Spain and Greece to take back migrants detained at the German borders, but could not reach a similar deal with Italy, which is the source arrival country of the majority of North African migrants. Mr Seehofer entered a closed meeting with CSU executive members overnight, and was reported to have too them he had a conversation with no resolution with Mrs Merkel.

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