Merkel does turnaround on migrants in deal to save her German government

Angela Merkel’s government was on the verge of collapse as her interior minister Horst Seehofer said he was ready to quit

Horst Seehofer has dropped his threat to quit over a dispute about managing immigration issues.

Weeks of "Merkel-bashing", however, have failed to help the CSU, as a Forsa poll last week showed around 68 percent of Bavarians backed Merkel's quest for a Europe-wide answer to migration rather than Germany going it alone.

Austria is prepared to take measures to protect its southern borders if an immigration deal within Germany's coalition goes into effect, the government in Vienna said on Tuesday. "We have a clear agreement on how to prevent illegal migration in the future at the borders between Germany and Austria".

The agreement sets up zones along the border with Austria to facilitate quick deportations for migrants not allowed to seek asylum in Germany. But Merkel had refused saying there needed to be other European nations involved.

"As such the spirit of partnership in the European Union is preserved and at the same time an important step to order and control secondary migration and that's why I think that we have found a good compromise after tough negotiations and hard days".

Ms. Merkel, anxious about European Union unity, opposes such a unilateral move without agreements between Germany and its neighbors. Any migrant who already applied for asylum in another European country would be rejected and asked to return to the countries where they made the applications.

"CDU and CSU have no interest in a split and the chances are over 90% for the coalition to survive for now", said retired politics professor Eckhard Jesse.

Alternatively it could break up the two parties' decades-long partnership, depriving Merkel of her majority in parliament and pitching Germany into uncharted political waters.

"We are well into the final chapter of the Merkel era", he said.

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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.

Her coalition partners have opted not to sink the government for now.

In particular, she still has to work with CSU leader and German Interior Minister Seehofer, with whom she has had several showdowns on different aspects of migrant policy.

Senior CSU lawmaker and former interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich wrote on his Twitter account that the CDU and CSU wouldn't let themselves be divided.

Speaking to reporters Merkel stressed that the compromise was in keeping with European Union rules.

It was the latest aftershock from Ms Merkel's 2015 decision to open Germany's borders to more than one million refugees fleeing from war in the Middle East and Africa.

Though the heated showdown is by far the worst yet between Seehofer and Merkel, it is by no means the first provoked by the Bavarian former state premier who is known for his unvarnished straight talk and political brinkmanship.

The conflict's political driving forces, including a state election in Bavaria in October, "will remain with us for months to come", he said.

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