Merkel’s Coalition In Jeopardy, Interior Minister Threatens Resignation Over Immigration

On Monday, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose soft position on immigration to her country has come under harsh criticism, got some bad news: Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who had been in discussions with party leaders for over ten hours, signaled he might resign because a European Union plan to limit immigrants was not strong enough.

Seehofer said he would speak with Merkel one more time on Monday to see if they could iron out their differences, but if they don’t and he resigns, triggering his Christian Social Union to withdraw from Merkel’s coalition, she would no longer have a majority in Parliament, which would catalyze new elections.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Mr. Seehofer had handed Ms. Merkel an ultimatum two weeks ago: Find a European deal that stops migrants with asylum applications in other EU countries from entering Germany or he would instruct police to start turning back such migrants at the border. Ms. Merkel had signaled that she would see such a move, which she opposes, as insubordination. Her Christian Democratic Union party, the CSU’s larger sister party, backed her position on migration late Sunday.”

Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union , and Seehofer’s, the Christian Social Union, have been joined in the government since just after World War II.

Earlier Monday, Merkel told German public broadcaster ZDF, “Europe is slow and we aren’t where we want to be and we have still to work a lot … to resolve the problem. But I am in favor of holding Europe together.”

Merkel has been chancellor of Germany for 12 years; she has three years left in her current term. AS AFP reports, “To politically survive, Merkel could attempt a minority government, seek a new coalition partner in the ecologist Greens or pro-business Free Democrats, or orchestrate a no-confidence vote in parliament that could trigger new elections.”

This year, Merkel conceded to the CSU, limiting entries for humanitarian reasons to 200,000 people a year. The CSU’s position is that Germany should deny entry to migrants who already applied for asylum in other EU countries before they migrate to Germany.

The New York Times quoted Andrea Römmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, who stated, “Merkel was synonymous with the liberal world order. She was an authority at home and abroad, but that is history. If she doesn’t go down now, she goes down in the next crisis.”