October 16, 2018 / 1:17 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-German CSU leader Seehofer wants Merkel coalition to work

* CSU leader Seehofer wants ruling coalition to work

* But he faces calls to quit after Bavaria election flop

* SPD blames CSU for ruling coalition’s poor image (Recasts with Seehofer quotes, pressure for him to go)

By Paul Carrel

BERLIN, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leading critic in her coalition government said on Tuesday he wanted the ruling alliance to work, batting away calls for his own resignation after a dismal result for his party in Bavaria’s regional election.

Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), has been a thorn in Merkel’s side since 2015, with criticism of her decision to open German borders to almost onemillion refugees, most of them fleeing war in the Middle East.

But the CSU’s disastrous performance on Sunday - its weakest since 1950 - has raised questions about whether he should stand down as party leader and interior minister in the national government.

The calls grew louder on Tuesday, with a senior member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partner in Merkel’s coalition, calling Seehofer “miscast” as interior minister and a senior CSU figure suggesting he should step down.

Seehofer dismissed the idea of resigning, telling a news conference his work in politics “is fun”. He said the CSU, sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), would act as a stable force in her ruling ‘grand’ coalition.

“I have no inclination at all for minority governments, or fresh elections and everything that can come with them,” he added.

“This grand coalition must simply get on with reputable work and communicate it properly.In the CSU, we will do everything for the grand coalition to stay,” Seehofer said.

Editing by Angus MacSwan

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