Merkel's party faces losses in state vote in German capital

Berlin Angela Merkel's key ally has renewed his call for the German chancellor to change her stance on refugees after a poll showed the majority of Germans backed his demand for a limit to be imposed on the number of migrants entering the country.

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In the voting on September 4, the center-left Social Democrats polled first with 31 percent; and the anti-immigrant party, Alternative for Germany, polled second, with 21 percent, leaving Ms. Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats a distant third, with 19 percent.

In recent polls, her ruling CDU party has lost ground to the far-right AfD, the latest two weeks ago when it was beaten into third place in polls in the leader's home state.

The coalition of German Chancellor Angela Merkel could be facing the brink of disaster as her chief ally and coalition partner Horst Seehofer may choose not to campaign with her next year during the federal election.

"It's important to let my voice be counted, so that (the result) doesn't, wont be due to some bad coincidence, fall prey to the AfD ('Alternative for Germany' right-wing party), or others I don't agree with".

The secretary general of Merkel's CDU, Peter Tauber, partly blamed the CSU for the losses in Berlin, which only 27 years ago was the front line of the Cold War.

"The more fearful within her party might be increasingly scared of losing power in 2017", he told the Handelsblatt business daily.

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Merkel has defended her approach and, at a rally Wednesday, criticized opponents "who think that if you provoke, if you have snappy slogans. problems will solve themselves".

Mueller, however, said after the results that "We have achieved our goal".

Police in the eastern city of Leipzig say they received a report in the early hours of Saturday that the vehicle was on fire.

The AfD, founded in 2013 as an anti-euro party, now polls nationally at between 11 and 14 per cent.

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.

The AfD has campaigned heavily on the migrant issue, playing to voters' fears about the integration of the roughly 1 million migrants who entered Germany previous year.

"From zero to double digits, that's unique for Berlin". They worry that a win for the Islamophobic AfD - which is especially popular in poor areas of the city's former communist east - will undo Berlin's long struggle against neo-Nazi groups such as the NPD party.

It would prove that the protest party "doesn't just benefit from discontent in rural areas but can establish a city of millions that is known for its open lifestyle", said the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

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