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Little sign of compromise in German govt showdown

Little sign of compromise in German govt showdown

Little sign of compromise in German govt showdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends an event to commemorate victims of displacement in Berlin, Germany, June 20 2018.

If he does step down, it was not immediately clear what effect the move would have on a three-week impasse between Ms Merkel and her Bavarian-only CSU partners, which has centred around his resolve to turn away some types of asylum-seekers at Germany's borders.

"He wants to step down as party chairman and interior minister" as he enjoys "no support", CSU party sources told AFP Sunday.

Seehofer, 68, a combative figure who tends to speak with a smile, has been a thorn in her side for years, especially over her open-door migrant policy and the last three years have been punctuated by a series of showdowns between the two.

Should the government break down completely, it could pave the way for new elections, an option that Merkel has previously said she prefers to ruling in a minority government.

Apparently unafraid of the risks, the CDU on Sunday offered its sister party no outstretched hand in the fight over a European approach versus unilateral national measures to slash migrant numbers.

Germany's CDU chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbaur said Ms Merkels party now have a deal that will prevent migrants registered elsewhere from entering Germany.

It provides an olive branch to the CSU by saying national governments should also take measures to counter secondary migration - people who seek asylum in European Union countries other than the one where they arrived.

Merkel, who has been in office since 2005, warned last week the issue of migration could decide the future of the EU.

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

The document circulated by Merkel to her coalition partners after the summit said 14 countries had agreed "on a political level" to take back some migrants who had passed through other European Union countries on their way to Germany.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who heads the Bavarian-only CSU, wants Germany to turn away some asylum-seekers at the country's borders, but the chancellor has insisted on Europe-wide solutions.

If not, he would defy her by going ahead with his border plans - likely exploding the governing coalition as the chancellor would be forced to fire him.

Ending the alliance with the Christian Democrats (CDU) would leave the government without a parliamentary majority.

The "Union" of CDU and CSU have blended the southern state's beer-and-lederhosen-infused conservatism with more moderate politics, forming a centre-right force that dominated Germany for decades. Ms. Merkel, anxious about European Union unity, opposes such a unilateral move without agreements between Germany and its neighbors.

The chancellor's frantic last-minute diplomacy was ultimately prompted by the CSU's fear of losing its cherished absolute majority in Bavaria's state parliament.

The leader of the third coalition partner, Andrea Nahles of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), is scheduled to join Mrs Merkel and Mr Seehofer for more crisis talks at 22:00 local time (20:00 GMT).

Merkel's decision in 2015 to open doors for refugees fleeing conflicts and persecution was widely criticized by conservative media outlets, and was exploited by the far-right and populist parties.

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