(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
BERLIN, Feb 24 - Top officials in the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on Saturday warned the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) that failure to stick to agreements on migrants could cause the collapse of the potential new German government.
SPD members, who have the final say on the coalition agreement for Europe's largest economy, must vote by March 2 in a postal ballot, with results to be made public on March 4.
Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer, who heads Bavaria's CSU, told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that new legislation was planned to make it easier to return failed asylum seekers to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, and to set up migrant centers in border areas until asylum applications could be processed.
If the SPD refused to support these laws after agreeing to a coalition, "that would be the end of the government," Seehofer told the newspaper. He said it would be unacceptable if the SPD did not stick to the agreements made with conservatives.
Seehofer, who is expected to become interior minister, told the paper the legislation would be brought in quickly - before the Bavarian state election on Oct. 14.
Bavaria's CSU conservative party, which lost 10 percentage points in September's national election, has vowed to recapture votes lost to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party with a hardline stance on migration and by emphasizing traditional conservative values.
As part of the coalition talks, SPD politicians reluctantly agreed to limit future migration to a range of 180,000 to 220,000 after the influx of over a million people in 2015 and 2016.
It remains uncertain if SPD members will approve the renewed tie-up with conservatives.
If they do not, Germany may well see Merkel form a minority government rather than brave a new election at a time when the anti-immigrant AfD has improved its position in the polls from September's election.