2018 German government crisis

The 2018 German government crisis,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] sometimes referred to as Asylstreit (asylum quarrel), was a government crisis affecting the Fourth Merkel cabinet,[1] which began in June 2018 and effectively ended in July 2018.[11]


Before the formation of a coalition government in March 2018, immigration policy had become an issue that prevented Angela Merkel obtaining a workable majority, with the Free Democratic Party declining to join a coalition and all potential coalition partners calling for stricter migration controls.[12]

The coalition government agreement, made between Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was not ratified by SPD members until 3 March 2018, more than five months after the September 2017 German Federal elections.[13] The coalition agreement indicates that the parties intended to modify policies in relation to refugees and family reunification. "The previous government (also a CDU/CSU/SPD grand coalition) had suspended the right of refugees with a 'limited protection status' to bring their families over. The new coalition deal says this will be limited to 1,000 people per month. On top of that, the number of asylum-seekers taken in altogether is to be capped at between 180,000 and 220,000 per year."[14]


June 2018[]

In June 2018, the coalition government, especially the CDU/CSU sister parties, quarreled over the specifics of asylum policies. After the interior minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had announced a "master plan" on asylum policies containing 63 points[15] - of which 62 were reportedly agreed between Seehofer and chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU)[1] - differences arose on the question of the rejection of asylum seekers already registered in other EU countries. After Seehofer threatened "national measures", meaning the closure of the borders for such asylum seekers, Merkel requested two weeks for talks on a "European solution" and convened an EU asylum policy summit on migration policies in the night of 28/29 June.[16][17] The result of the summit was seen as a "vague" success for Merkel. The Visegrád Group, represented by the Hungarian prime minister, claimed that the EU was beginning to accept its proposals for dealing with asylum seekers.[18][19]

Among other things, it was agreed that European governments are allowed to "take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures" to prevent refugees and migrants from crossing Europe's internal borders. The Guardian called this "an apparent lifeline for Merkel".[20] While Merkel claimed that she had reached agreements with Greece and Spain as well as commitments of 14 states on deportations of registered migrants, the Visegrád Group among them,[21] the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland subsequently denied that there were new agreements.[22]

It was also reported that there were personal differences between Merkel and Seehofer, the latter reportedly saying: "I can’t work with this woman any more!"[17]

July 2018[]

After the EU summit, German chancellor Angela Merkel faced resistance by the Bavarian CSU party over the result of the summit, and interior minister HorstSeehofer announced a "declaration"Sunday 1 July. Seehofer threatened to order "national measures" and reject migrants who are registered in other EU countries. It was reported that he considered talks with Merkel in Berlin on 30 June 2018 on the summit results as "ineffective" and "useless", stating that Merkel's plan would create new "pull factors" for asylum seekers to come to Europe.[3] He also rejected a proposal by Merkel to accommodate asylum seekers who are already registered in EU countries in so-called "anchor centers" (Ankerzentren), which would allow quicker deportations.[23]

Whilst Bavarian minister president Markus Söder stated that the summit result would point "in the right direction", the party leaders held a meeting in the CSU party headquarters in Munich on Sunday and voiced criticism of Merkel's plan.[2] Merkel stated that she wants to avoid a breakup of the government and the historical parliamentary group with the Bavarian sister party.[24]

On the evening of 1 July, interior minister Horst Seehofer reportedly offered the CSU party leadership his resignation over the conflict with Angela Merkel,[25] but chose to stay in office for the time being, after party board members as Alexander Dobrindt convinced him to stay.[26] New talks were agreed between CDU and CSU delegations for 1700 CET on 2 July in Berlin. Seehofer stated ahead of the talks: "I'm not going to get dismissed by a chancellor who's only chancellor because of me."[27][28]

Later in the evening of 2 July, an agreement was made between the CDU/CSU sister parties. It contains the introduction of Transitzentren (transit centres) which allow quick deportations of asylum seekers already registered abroad without entering the country, and in specific cases the rejection of such people directly at the German border. To avoid that there is only a national approach, agreements with the European neighbours are also included. Seehofer announced that the agreement allows him to stay in office as Minister of the Interior. After the agreement between the sister parties, talks with the coalition partner of the SPD party followed. Leading SPD politicians said that they had "many questions" about the agreement.[29]

By 9 July, it was being reported that the ruling coalition had achieved a level of stability, leaving the government able to negotiate bilateral deals with other European countries. Meanwhile, talks commenced with Austria and Italy in an effort to close the Merranean migration routes from Africa to Europe.[30]


See also[]


  1. ^ a b c "Angela Merkel buys time in government crisis over asylum", Deutsche Welle, 18 June 2018
  2. ^ a b "Es geht in die richtige Richtung", Der Spiegel, 1 July 2018
  3. ^ a b "Seehofer nimmt Merkels Asyl-Paket auseinander", Frankfurter Allgemeine, 1 July 2018
  4. ^ "German government crisis: What are Merkel's options?", Reuters, 2 July 2018
  5. ^ "No Resolution to German Government Crisis Over Migrant Plans", New York Times, 1 July 2018
  6. ^ "Report: CSU head offers to resign over Merkel migrant policy", The Washington Post, 1 July 2018
  7. ^ "Merkel Courts Government Crisis in Refugee Clash With Allies", Bloomberg.com, 14 June 2018
  8. ^ "Regierungskrise: 'Angela Merkels Führungsstil ist die einzige Chance für Europa'", Die Zeit, 2 July 2018
  9. ^ "Is this Angela Merkel's moment of reckoning?", BBC, 18 June 2018
  10. ^ "Austria calls for clarity over migration issue", The Times, 3 July 2018
  11. ^ Melissa Eddy (4 July 2018). "Migration Deal Rescued Merkel's Government. Now, She Must Save the Pact". New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  12. ^ Oltermann, Philip (November 11, 2017). "German coalition talks collapse after deadlock on migration and energy: Chancellor Angela Merkel left facing prospect of forming minority government – or fresh elections – after FDP quits negotiations". The Guardian. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  13. ^ Reuters staff (March 4, 2018). "Factbox: Main points of German coalition agreement". Reuters. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  14. ^ Ben Knight; Timothy Jones (December 3, 2018). "Germany's coalition agreement: What's in it?". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  15. ^ 63 Punkte, die die Koalition spalten, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18 June 2018
  16. ^ Zerreißt es die Union im Asylstreit?, Der Tagesspiegel, 21 June 2018
  17. ^ a b Angela Merkel has two weeks to keep Germany’s centre-right together, The Economist, 19 June 2018
  18. ^ Die EU zieht die Tür weiter zu, Süddeutsche, 29 June 2018
  19. ^ "European Summit: small victory for the V4". V Post. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  20. ^ EU migration deal: what was agreed and will it work?, The Guardian, 29 June 2018
  21. ^ 14 weitere Länder sichern Merkel rasche Flüchtlingsrückführung zu, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30 June 2018
  22. ^ „Keine neue Vereinbarung“ – Auch Polen widerspricht Merkel, Die Welt, 1 July 2018
  23. ^ "Seehofer: Gipfel-Ergebnisse nicht wirkungsgleich", n-tv.de, 1 July 2018
  24. ^ Merkel Faces Crunch Time in Showdown on Migrant Policy, Bloomberg.com, 1 July 2018
  25. ^ German interior minister offers to resign over migration conflict, Sky News, 1 July 2018
  26. ^ Protokoll des Nervenkriegs: Als Seehofer die Bombe platzen ließ, reagierte Dobrindt am schnellsten, Merkur.de, 1 July 2018]
  27. ^ Seehofer: "Ich lasse mich nicht von einer Kanzlerin entlassen, die nur wegen mir Kanzlerin ist", Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2 July 2018
  28. ^ Einigung möglich? Offenbar Transitzentren nahe der Grenze im Gespräch, Die Welt, 2 July 2018
  29. ^ Chancellor Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer agree on a migration compromise, Deutsche Welle, 2 July 2018
  30. ^ "Immigration deal saves German government, points to European future". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  31. ^ Juncker: Asyl-Kompromiss wohl mit EU-Recht vereinbar, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 3 July 2018
  32. ^ „Es ist nicht klar geworden, was Deutschland hier vorhat“, Die Welt, 3 July 2018