Last week Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) descended into an open conflict over migration policy. At its core was the CSU’s plan to introduce checks at Germany’s borders and reject there all those refugees who have already been registered in other EU member states.

For a short while, it seemed as if CSU-leader Horst Seehofer was willing to bring down Merkel over the issue.

Had Seehofer – who not only leads the Bavarian CSU, but also heads Germany’s Interior Ministry – pushed ahead with his plans, Merkel would have had little choice but to either oust him or accept a painful defeat. In the worst case, the showdown could have brought down the government.

But today, both sides decided that neither of these options were too attractive. At least not for the time being.

Both appeared in front of the press – separately though, Merkel in Berlin, Seehofer in the Bavarian capital of Munich – to announce that there would be a two-week ‘breather’ in the debate.

With the can kicked further, the government meltdown had if not avoided, then at least postponed.

Seehofer stepped back from his initial demand to immediately introduce the new border controls, and ‘granted’ Merkel until after the EU summit on 28-29 June to find a European solution to the topic.

This European solution, both were clear, would not necessarily be European in the sense of full-blown multilateralism including all member states. Rather, it would take the form bilateral agreements between different member states. The German government had already announced emergency talks with other countries in Europe most hit by the migration crisis.

But will such a solution be found? Who knows.

There is not yet any clear idea how this would work, which countries would be willing to support Germany, and what they would want to receive in return.

When asked, Merkel cited the example of the EU-Turkey deal from 2015, and the money that was given to Ankara to support the refugees living in its country. Perhaps it will be a similar type of deal again, in which Germany pays, so that others prevent refugees from reaching its borders.

The key question, however, is what happens if no such solution can be found. Or if it is not deemed “equivalent in outcome” to the CSU’s own border plans, as demanded by Seehofer?

If Merkel fails to strike a deal on migration in the coming weeks – or if the CSU thinks the deal does not deliver the necessary results – we are back to meltdown talk.

Both parties will face the same difficult choice they just escaped.

The CSU could feel forced to push ahead its national solution and send more police to the borders. This carries the risk of Merkel intervening, and possibly even dismissing Seehofer. The coalition government may be blown apart, and even the decade-old alliance of CDU and CSU may break as a result.

Should the CSU leave the coalition government, this would also mean an end to Merkel’s majority. The CDU and her other coalition partner, the Social Democratic SPD, fall two seats short of an absolute majority in parliament. They may be able to call in support from the Green Party, yet this would come at a price.

In addition, Merkel would all of a sudden also have to see off three parties on her (political) right. Together, the Free Democrats (FDP), Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) and CSU control nearly a third of the Bundestag.

But in the best case for Merkel it won’t come to this.

The CSU urgently needs a symbolic victory out of this, to strengthen its hand in upcoming state elections this autumn. But as much as Seehofer is trying to use this crisis for political gain, he has no interest in seeing his party dropping out of government.

Merkel is weakened and under increasing pressure, but remains a master in crafting last-minute compromises and seeing off political competitors. The list of male politicians who have underestimated her at their own peril is long.

While it is unlikely that either side will simply give in, a fiercely fought over compromise remains the most likely outcome for now.

And if not, maybe they’ll just kick the can down the road again. And again.

Leopold Traugott is a policy analyst at Open Europe.