German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition yesterday risked breaking apart as her hardline conservative Bavarian allies pushed a showdown over migrant policy after she was unmoved by her interior minister’s threat to resign.
German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer insisted on his plan to turn away asylum seekers at the border with Austria registered in other European countries, as he rejected EU deals reached last week by Merkel as inadequate.
Seehofer said after talks with his party stretching into the small hours of yesterday morning that he would step down as minister and head of the Christian Social Union rather than acquiesce in the increasingly bitter standoff.
However, after a night of high drama, Seehofer later said he would hold last-ditch talks with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) “in hopes of reaching an understanding.”
The future of Merkel’s governing coalition between the CDU-CSU alliance and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) appeared to hang by a thread, as media slammed what they called a reckless game of chicken.
“It is fair to ask: has the CSU lost its mind?” Der Spiegel reporter Rene Pfister said.
“In the end, the government could fall and an old, proud party could descend into ridiculousness — and all of that to solve a problem that in reality hardly is one,” given the dramatically lower numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Germany this year.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas of the SPD said the crisis had already damaged the country’s standing as a bulwark of European stability.
“I think the way this debate is being conducted is hurting Germany’s image and above all that of the German government,” he said.
If Merkel holds firm and Seehofer does quit, the CSU could offer a replacement interior minister if it aims to remain tied to her party.
Alternatively, it could break up the two parties’ 70-year partnership, depriving Merkel of her majority in parliament and pitching Germany into uncharted political waters.
As he entered a CDU crisis meeting yesterday, deputy leader Armin Laschet said the sister parties “want to hold onto” their alliance.
“It is a precious thing for our party system and that is why I’m confident we will succeed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bavarian state Premier Markus Soeder appeared to indicate a willingness to cut Seehofer loose for the sake of the coalition.
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
TARGETED TEXTS: The center’s head said that visitor numbers at scenic spots were greater than expected and people did not do a very good job of social distancing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday sent two warning text messages to urge people to practice social distancing, especially by avoiding crowded scenic areas. The two messages were sent at 11:55am on the third day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, reminding people about social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent COVID-19 infection. “When visiting crowded scenic spots during the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, please keep a social distance of at least 1.5m indoors and 1m outdoors, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Please wear a mask and seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling ill
The US National Security Council yesterday thanked Taiwan for its support amid the COVID-19 pandemic following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement that Taiwan would donate 10 million masks to hard-hit countries. The donation includes 2 million masks to the US on top of the weekly 100,000 announced previously; 7 million to Europe; and 1 million to diplomatic allies, on top of 1 million Taiwan procured for allies from their neighboring countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed appreciation for the donations, the US body yesterday wrote its thanks on Twitter. “We