Merkel Faces Setback In Berlin Vote, AfD Predicted Surge

BERLIN (Reuters) – 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 refugee-friendly policy. 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