Merkel, Seehofer reach last-minute compromise on migration to avert crisis

German coalition teeters as minister offers to resign over migrants

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rebellious Bavarian allies searched Monday for a way to resolve a standoff over migration after Germany's interior minister offered to resign, but a compromise looked elusive in the dispute that has rocked her government. Her unpopular policy was a large reason why her party, the Christian Democratic Union, crashed and burned in last September's elections.

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

Speaking to reporters Merkel stressed that the compromise was in keeping with European Union rules.

Seehofer and Merkel, who have long had a hard relationship, have sparred over migrant policy on and off since 2015.

At the national level, Merkel proposes that migrants arriving in Germany who first registered in another European Union country should be placed in special "admission centres" under restrictive conditions, according to a document she sent to the CSU and SPD.

Public anger and fear about the newcomers has given rise to the far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which entered parliament past year and threatens Seehofer's CSU in Bavarian state polls in October.

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Following marathon talks at the Brussels summer summit, European leaders eventually reached a compromise on migration in the early hours of Friday.

Despite the drama over Mr. Seehofer's resignation threat on Sunday, several political analysts said the most likely outcome was for both parties to walk back and find a last-minute compromise.

However, according to das Bild, Seehofer called the meeting on Saturday evening an "ineffective conversation".

The agreement sets up zones along the border with Austria to facilitate quick deportations for migrants not allowed to seek asylum in Germany.

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

It's meant to dovetail with a migration pact reached by the bloc's leaders last week under pressure from the CSU, which includes pledges by some European Union countries to take back asylum seekers rejected by Germany.

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But SPD leader Andrea Nahles warned that "my patience has worn thin".

The "Free State" with its beer-and-lederhosen Alpine traditions, powerful industries and impenetrable dialect has a more conservative bent than other German regions.

But it was Seehofer's latest project that shattered relations with Merkel, a 63-point "migration master plan" that is yet to be released to the public.

"The CSU's immigration policy and its treatment to its sister party are only supported by a minority", Forsa head Manfred Güllner told the RTL/n-tv broadcaster, which commissioned the survey.

However, Seehofer agreed to see Merkel on Monday before making a final decision. Austria's southernmost borders are with Slovenia and Italy.

CSU leaders are divided over how to face down a challenge from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) in October's regional election.

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