Political News

The Latest: Social Democrats strongest in Berlin elections

Posted September 18

— The Latest on state elections in Berlin (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Exit polls show the Social Democrats and Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party emerged from Berlin state elections as the strongest two parties, but lost enough support they won't be able to continue a coalition government together.

ARD public television reported Sunday that the SPD won 23 percent of the vote, dropping 5.3 percent, while the CDU won 18 percent, down 5.4 percent.

The anti-immigrant nationalist Alternative for Germany party won 11.5 percent of the vote, behind the Greens and the Left party, each with 16.5 percent, but with more than enough to enter Berlin's state parliament, its 10th nationwide.

Without enough support for the governing SPD-CDU "grand coalition" to continue, the most likely new governing alliance appeared to be a combination of the SPD, Greens and Left party.

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9:55 a.m.

Voters in the German state of Berlin are casting ballots in a state election predicted to result in a fresh setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel's party.

Her Christian Democratic Union has been the junior coalition partner to the center-left Social Democrats in the capital for the past five years.

The city of 3.5 million has experienced a population boom during that time, putting pressure on housing, schools and its transport infrastructure.

The influx of tens of thousands of migrants over the past year has also become a campaign issue, though to a lesser degree than in other, less cosmopolitan parts of the country.

Pollsters forecast that the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany will easily pass the 5-percent threshold to enter the Berlin state assembly for the first time, its 10th nationwide.

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