German chancellor Angela Merkel was braced for a second electoral blow in two weeks in a Berlin city vote on Sunday. Her Christian Democrats are set to lose ground to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party amid the backlash over her refugee-friendly policies. Voting in the capital began at 8am on Sunday with polls predicting heavy losses for Merkel’s CDU and a chance for the centre-left Social Democrats to ditch them from the coalition which runs the city. It follows a drubbing in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern two weeks ago, which prompted calls for Mrs Merkel to toughen her stance on immigration.
And still we have to try, again and again, because I think we must not give up on people who are casting protest votes
The recent election losses have even raised questions about whether Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, will stand for a fourth term next year but her party has few good alternatives. In Berlin, the AfD has polled 14% and stands in good stead to land seats in a tenth out of Germany’s 16 state assemblies. Berlin is seen as a tough test for Mrs Merkel as the city - traditionally liberal and hip - has taken 70,000 of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have come to Germany. However, other issues, such as the poor state of public services and high unemployment, are seen as being equally important factors in settling the vote.
At the moment, we are short of qualified staff and state-of-the-art kit, which means we are always one step behind the criminals
Bodo Pfalzgraf, Berlin police union leader