Little sign of compromise in German government showdown

AP

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  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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    German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, 3rd left, is pictured during a board meeting of his Christian Social Union CSU in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday night, July 1, 2018. Germany's interior minister and head of the Christian Social Union party reportedly offered his resignation from both posts Sunday night rather than back down from his stance against Chancellor Angela Merkel's migration policies, as the crisis within her governing coalition came to a head. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in a car for a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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    FILE - In this April 10, 2018 file photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel, front center, and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, right, look at their watches after they and other members of the government posed for a group photo during two-day retreat at the government guest house Meseberg castle in Gransee north of Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

  • 4

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel opens a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018 amid a dispute about the migration policy. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

  • 5

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • 6

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • 7

    Horst Seehofer, center, chairman of Bavarian's Christian Social Union party and German Interior Minister briefs the media after he leaves a board meeting of his party in Munich, early morning on Monday, July 2, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

  • 8

    Horst Seehofer, center, chairman of Bavarian's Christian Social Union party and German Interior Minister brief the media after he leaves a board meeting of his party in Munich, early morning on Monday, July 2, 2018. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

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    FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union, CSU, drinks water during a press statement after Merkel's conservatives and Germany's main center-left party reached a deal to form a new coalition government after a final session of talks that dragged on for 24 hours in the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union in Berlin. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, file)

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • 1

    German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, 3rd left, is pictured during a board meeting of his Christian Social Union CSU in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday night, July 1, 2018. Germany's interior minister and head of the Christian Social Union party reportedly offered his resignation from both posts Sunday night rather than back down from his stance against Chancellor Angela Merkel's migration policies, as the crisis within her governing coalition came to a head. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

  • 2

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in a car for a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • 3

    FILE - In this April 10, 2018 file photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel, front center, and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, right, look at their watches after they and other members of the government posed for a group photo during two-day retreat at the government guest house Meseberg castle in Gransee north of Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

  • 4

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel opens a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018 amid a dispute about the migration policy. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

  • 5

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • 6

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a board meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party at the headquarters in Berlin, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • 7

    Horst Seehofer, center, chairman of Bavarian's Christian Social Union party and German Interior Minister briefs the media after he leaves a board meeting of his party in Munich, early morning on Monday, July 2, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

  • 8

    Horst Seehofer, center, chairman of Bavarian's Christian Social Union party and German Interior Minister brief the media after he leaves a board meeting of his party in Munich, early morning on Monday, July 2, 2018. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

  • 9

    FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union, CSU, drinks water during a press statement after Merkel's conservatives and Germany's main center-left party reached a deal to form a new coalition government after a final session of talks that dragged on for 24 hours in the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union in Berlin. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, file)

BERLIN (AP) Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rebellious Bavarian allies searched Monday for a way to end a standoff over migration after Germany's interior minister offered to resign, but a compromise looked elusive in the dispute that has rocked the government.

The crisis that has raised questions over the future of Merkel's 3-month-old administration pits Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his Bavaria-only Christian Social Union against Merkel, the head of its longtime sister party, the Christian Democratic Union.

Ahead of a difficult Bavarian state election in October, the CSU is determined to show it is tough on migration. Seehofer wants to turn asylum-seekers who have already been registered in another European Union country back at Germany's border, but Merkel is adamant that Germany shouldn't take unilateral action.

Seehofer and Merkel, who have long had a difficult relationship, have sparred over migrant policy on and off since 2015. However, the current dispute has erupted at a time when Germany is seeing far fewer newcomers than in that year's influx.

Seehofer, who reportedly argues that measures to tackle migration agreed at a European Union summit last week aren't enough, said after his party's top leaders met early Monday that he would hold talks during the day with the CDU. The leadership of Merkel's party approved a resolution Sunday stating that "turning people back unilaterally would be the wrong signal to our European partners."

It is unclear what effect Seehofer's resignation as interior minister and CSU leader, if he goes through with it, would have on the two conservative parties' governing coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.

Over recent days, speculation had focused on the possibility of Merkel firing Seehofer if he went ahead unilaterally with his plan. That would likely end the seven-decade partnership of the CDU and CSU, which have a joint parliamentary group, and in turn would leave the government just short of a majority.

CDU leaders and lawmakers on Monday stressed the importance of maintaining intact the conservative alliance, Germany's strongest political force for much of its post-war history.

Deputy CDU leader Armin Laschet said the party's position is "independent of Horst Seehofer or Angela Merkel, because we want the European solution."

Merkel maintains that a plan to regulate immigration that European Union leaders approved Friday and bilateral agreements in principle that she hashed out with some countries for them to take back migrants would accomplish what Seehofer seeks.

However, the more conservative CSU believes its credibility is at stake as it tries to curb support for the anti-migration Alternative for Germany party in the upcoming Bavarian election.

European agreements "will take a very long time" to take effect and there are uncertainties over which countries will join in, hardline Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said. "So I think action in Germany to strengthen European interests is absolutely necessary."

But he also struck a conciliatory tone, saying "there is an abundance of possibilities ... for compromises," without specifying what they were. He insisted that the CSU isn't questioning the government's stability and doesn't want to break up the CDU-CSU partnership.

"We can achieve a lot in a government, but not outside," Soeder said.

The Social Democrats, who have largely been bystanders so far, demanded that their coalition partners get their act together, and called for a meeting later Monday with the conservative leaders. Party leader Andrea Nahles said that "the CSU is on a dangerous ego trip that is paralyzing Germany and Europe."

"The blame game between CDU and CSU must end, because it is irresponsible," she said.

"My patience is gradually wearing thin."

        

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