| BERLIN, Sept 18
BERLIN, Sept 18 German Chancellor Angela
Merkel's conservatives look set to suffer a second electoral
blow in two weeks in a Berlin city vote on Sunday as a growing
number of voters are expected to express their unease with her
The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected
to profit from a popular backlash over Merkel's decision a year
ago to keep German borders open for refugees and the party could
enter its tenth regional assembly out of Germany's 16 states.
Polls point to heavy losses for Merkel's Christian Democrats
(CDU) in the vote for the Berlin city assembly which means the
centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) may be able to ditch them
from their current coalition.
That would likely raise the pressure further on Merkel one
year before a federal election and could deepen divisions within
her conservative camp.
A drubbing in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
two weeks ago triggered calls from Merkel's conservative allies
in Bavaria to toughen up her migrant policy with measures such
as introducing a cap of 200,000 refugees per year.
Merkel rejects such a limit and defends her approach to find
a European solution to the migration issue by securing the
continent's external borders, agreeing migration deals with
countries like Turkey and distributing refugees across Europe.
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 so
she still looks like the most likely candidate.
The latest Berlin poll by Forschungsgruppe Wahlen for ZDF
public broadcaster put the CDU on 18 percent, down 5 points from
the last election in 2011 and far behind the SPD's projected 23
percent. It put the AfD on 14 percent, the environmentalist
Greens on 15 percent and the leftist Die Linke at 14.5 percent.
The AfD has campaigned heavily on the migrant issue, playing
to voters' fears about the cost of the roughly 1 million
migrants who entered Germany last year and about their
Security, especially after two attacks claimed by Islamic
State in Bavaria in July that injured 20 people and deadly
Islamist militant attacks in neighbouring France and Belgium
earlier in the year, are also a concern to voters.
The SPD, Merkel's junior coalition partner at the federal
level, wants to form a coalition with the Greens and, if needed,
the leftist Die Linke.
Berlin's SPD Mayor Michael Mueller has sharply criticised
the AfD's migration policy during the campaign, saying a
double-digit score for the right-wing party would be seen around
the world as the rebirth of the Nazis.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber,; Additional reporting by
Madeline Chambers; Editing by Clelia Oziel)