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Angela Merkel reaches compromise to end immigration row threatening government
03 July 2018, 11:16 | Darnell Patrick
GETTYAngela Merkel has faced increasing pressure from Horst Seehofer over her migration policy in Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has saved her teetering government by agreeing to get tougher in migration and set up border camps for asylum seekers, in a deal reached Monday with her rebellious interior minister, Horst Seehofer.
Alternatively, Mr Seehofer could voluntarily step down as interior minister.
The agreement still requires the consent of Merkel's other coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats, to become government policy.
Ending the alliance with the Christian Democrats (CDU) would leave the government without a parliamentary majority. Mr Seehofer was not there.
Merkel said in an interview with ZDF television that the formal agreements and verbal commitments she had secured from her EU partners would have the migration-stemming effect the CSU wanted to achieve, but in a more European-minded fashion. He insisted the CSU doesn't want to break up the conservative partnership. Mr Seehofer was not there. "It once again proves it is worthwhile to fight for a conviction and what has now been agreed is really a clear and very tenable agreement for the future".
The leaderships of the CDU and CSU met separately in Berlin and Munich on Sunday to discuss whether and how the two parties, which have been allied since 1949, will continue to work together.
But SPD leader Andrea Nahles warned that "my patience has worn thin". "We share a common goal in migration policy", they said.
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Leaders and lawmakers in Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union, on Monday afternoon stressed the importance of maintaining the seven-year conservative alliance between their party and Seehoefer's. Germany will work with countries where migrants started the asylum process before sending them back to those countries, CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
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Seehofer was later persuaded by party colleagues to talk to Merkel one last time on Monday to try to settle the dispute, declaring he would make his final decision within three days.
She could also call a vote of no confidence.
Is it a power struggle?
"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.
Nevertheless, the anti-refugee, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) was propelled into federal parliament for the first time a year ago by outrage over immigration, leading to months of paralysis while Merkel struggled to put together a workable coalition.
"It's not about who comes out on top, but about what's right", Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder told the CSU gathering, according to news agency DPA.
The CDU is marginally down nationally to 26%, the poll indicates.
Merkel rejected such unilateral German measures and pledged to reach bilateral deals instead with other European Union states.
Seehofer had initially proposed an immediate rejection of immigrants who have been registered in other European Union countries but later agreed to a phased implementation of the plan, contradicting Merkel's stance on the matter.
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