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Merkel Continues to Clash with Interior Minister Over Immigration

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German Chancellor Angela MerkelSean Gallup — Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel could face political unrest this week if Interior Minister Horst Seehofer follows through on his threat to resign over immigration disagreements. The two are set to meet Monday afternoon in a final attempt to find a resolution on which both agree.

The disagreements reached a peak this weekend when Merkel’s party passed a motion supporting the immigration deal she negotiated with European leaders last week. Seehofer rejected this agreement and threatened to step down from his role as both interior minister and party leader, putting the stability of the German government at risk.

Seehofer is leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). Without the CSU’s support, Merkel would lose her majority support in parliament, weakening her ability to pass effective policy. The alliance between the CSU and the CDU is decades old, but the issue of immigration has strained it to new levels of tension.

Seehofer argues immigrants should be turned away at the border if they don’t have papers or have already registered in another EU nation, but barring access to Germany would increase the flow of immigrants to nations in the south. This puts the deal Merkel carefully crafted with EU leaders at risk.

Still, the two would rather compromise than risk an end to the CSU/CDU coalition.

“In the interest of this country, the government’s ability to act and of the governing coalition, which we would like to maintain,” Seehofer told reporters Sunday, “we would like to try to reach an agreement on this central question of border control and rejections at the border.”

The CDU echoed this sentiment in a statement after their own party meeting. “We share a common goal in migration policy,” they said. “We want to order, control and limit migration to Germany.”

The need for peace is only heightened by the upcoming state elections in October, which could see a new party take parliamentary majority if the CSU/CDU coalition dissolves.