The political future of German Chancellor Angela Merkel hangs in the balance this week, with her coalition government facing an imminent "collapse" over their unpopular and controversial immigration and asylum policies.
Merkel's woes come as European Union countries are once again at loggerheads over immigration, triggered by Italy's refusal this month to allow a rescue ship carrying 630 migrants to dock.
Interior minister and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party, Horst Seehofer, made the demand, according to the Bild Zeitung, challenging Merkel's open-door asylum policy that has been in place since 2015.
If Seehofer, who has always been critical of the chancellor, decides to defy her, it could spell an end to the 70-year alliance between his Bavarian conservatives and those whom she represents in the remainder of the country.
The CSU fears that without a tougher migration policy, the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party "will become stronger in Bavaria at the expense of the CSU", says Jürgen Falter, a political scientist and expert on Germany's far right.More news: Supreme Court Lets States Force Online Retailers To Collect Sales Tax
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As outlined in his "migration master plan", Seehofer wants to refuse asylum access to German territory if they have already formally entered the Schengen zone via another country. Even with a sharp decline in the numbers crossing to Europe over the Mediterranean, migration has surged to the top of the political agenda, with the proliferation of unilateral measures fraying the bonds of European Union unity. They include a deadly 2016 Christmas market attack by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker and the rape-murder in May of a teenage girl, allegedly by an Iraqi.
Merkel now faces a unsafe mutiny from her hardline Bavarian Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has vowed to defy her and order police to shut German borders to most asylum seekers by early July absent an European Union accord.
The Bavarian governor said that he would welcome a "truly effective European regulation" but warned against delaying the matter with a superficial and non-binding resolution at the June EU summit.
On Monday, reports emerged that Seehofer has agreed to give Merkel two weeks to come up with a solution, but the situation is still highly concerning for investors already anxious about politics in the European region. The CSU lost thousands of voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in federal elections a year ago, and is fearful of further losses. "They are the only party represented in the German parliament being strictly against the German asylum and migration policy".
"We see somewhat positive developments there", Merkel told reporters Tuesday.
Merkel has had an often-tense history with Seehofer, and their relationship became really hard after Merkel's 2015 decision to keep Germany's borders open as migrants streamed across the Balkans.
"After the European Council, the (CDU) party presidency will decide what to do next", she told a news conference.