Germany's right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has the potential to take several districts of Berlin in upcoming elections, warned the city's mayor in an interview Sunday.
Eligible Berliners will head to the polls September 18 to pick not only representatives for Berlin's state parliament, but for their city district councils as well.
"The problem is not just 10 AfD members out of 140 representatives in the state parliament. A big problem would be when the AfD takes one or two seats at the district level," Mayor Michael Mueller, of the centre-left Social Democrats, told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag in an interview published Sunday.
"If that were the case, the AfD would have a kind of governmental responsibility in the capital. The district councils have influence over budgets worth millions and hundreds of administrative employees."
Georg Pazderski, the head of AfD in Berlin, said: "Mathematically speaking, the AfD has the potential to take three or four districts. We would obviously take on the responsibility if it was given to us."
Founded three years ago as a eurosceptic party, the AfD has since lurched to the right, emerging as a major critic of Islam in Germany and expressing opposition to Berlin's liberal stance on refugees.
Berlin, which is governed by a coalition of the Social Democrats and the centre-right Christian Democrats, is broken into 12 districts with their own local councils.
The smallest district, Spandau, with 230,000 residents, has alone about the same population size as two capital cities in Germany's eastern states.