In an extraordinary last-minute reversal, Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing the imminent collapse of her coalition government, agreed late on July 2 to reinstate border controls with Austria.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had threatened to resign from Merkel’s cabinet unless she agreed to a plan by July 3 to reduce so-called irregular secondary movements. The plan to which Merkel agreed entails holding refugees at detention camps to be established along Germany’s southern border, the main gateway for refugees to the country, and turning back those who have already claimed asylum in other EU countries.
Seehofer’s resignation would have called into question the continued viability of a 70-year-alliance between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and his Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble warned that the two parties were “standing at the edge of the abyss.”
A CDU/CSU divorce would have deprived Merkel of her majority in parliament and possibly triggered new elections in which the anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), would have been the biggest winner, according to recent polls.