Merkel tries to quell immigration row threatening to topple Germany’s ruling coalition
German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned to her European neighbors this weekend for help with a fierce domestic dispute over immigration that is threatening to topple her three-party coalition.
Aides to the chancellor reached out to the governments of several European Union members on the front line of the continent’s immigration crisis to sound out their willingness to readmit migrants that try to cross from their territory into Germany, European officials said on Sunday.
Among those approached were the governments of Austria, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, the officials said. Berlin also liaised with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body.
Merkel’s move came after her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, handed the chancellor an ultimatum last week, warning that he could close the country’s borders to certain categories of illegal migrants as early as Monday.
Seehofer chairs the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. While the two parties have historically been closely aligned, sharing a parliamentary group, the CSU has grown increasingly hostile to Merkel’s open-border refugee policy, which it has vowed to end ahead of a key election in October. Opinion polls suggest the CSU could lose its absolute majority amid a robust performance by the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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