German MP predicts Merkel could be ousted end of next week

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin Friday

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Sunday a row between his Bavarians and Chancellor Angela Merkel is serious but can be overcome, a signal that he may compromise to avoid a full-blown German coalition crisis. His party holds a leadership meeting Monday which could authorize Seehofer to push through his demand.

Such a direct challenge to Merkel would force her to fire Interior Minister Horst Seehofer - a vocal critic of her open door immigration policy and a thorn in her side.

Amid widespread calls for Merkel to sack Seehofer anyway, particularly if she wanted to retain her credibility, Jan Korte of the far-left Die Linke party said: "This Rambo in lederhosen needs to be stopped".

However it ends, the spat has laid bare the limits of Merkel's authority in a fractious government that took office in March after almost six months of postelection haggling.

Both men, who champion a tougher stance on migrants, reportedly warned that the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is likely to come in dangerously close to the CSU in the upcoming state election in Bavaria.

The CSU's Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder said that the ongoing "asylum tourism" meant that, as a government, "we're nearing the endgame when it comes to our credibility".

"No one in the CSU has an interest in bringing down the chancellor, dissolving the CDU-CSU joint parliamentary group, or blowing up the coalition", Seehofer was quoted as telling the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "We finally want to have a solution for the return of refugees at our borders which is fit for the future", he added.

"It is crucial that the European Union summit at the end of June reaches agreements that recognize Germany's burden in migrant policy", he said.

Seehofer and Merkel have long had an awkward relationship.

The survey turns up the pressure on Merkel, who has faced a backlash for allowing into Germany more than one million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere since 2015.

Striking a conciliatory tone in a guest column in the Frankfurter Allgemeine paper, Seehofer said the cohesion of Europe and Germany was at stake. But he said the aim should be a "consensual solution" and wrote that it was "of decisive significance that the European Union summit at the end of June finally makes decisions that recognize Germany's burdens in migrant policy".

The tensions in the bloc were on full display this week, when Italy's new hard-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, turned away a rescue ship with more than 600 African migrants, threatening to leave them on the doorstep of his European neighbours, until Spain agreed to let them in.

Mrs Merkel has asked the CSU to give her two weeks to come up with bilateral deals with some countries, such as Italy and Greece, similar to one agreed between Turkey and the European Union in 2016.

The CSU appeared to be at pains at the weekend to limit the damage done to the conservative alliance amid growing evidence the German government could be about to collapse.

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