On a recent morning, a group of young women were busy filling out forms to be called on to fill in for their parents’ appointments at the Kresge Institute, a German medical institute.
The women were among the 1,200 applicants who will be invited to take part in the first ever Berlin’s official “election” in December.
“It’s the most important job for our city,” said Frauke Kresgge, a former head of the state’s civil service and a leading candidate for the city’s mayoralty.
“We’ve got to keep our city functioning, so we’ve got a very good chance of winning the elections.”
The appointment of a new Berlin mayor is expected to be one of the most consequential events in the city this year.
Since 2014, Berlin has seen a surge in immigration from the former communist East, with Berlin now home to about 10% of the country’s population.
That has led to tensions between locals and foreign tourists, particularly from the UK.
The influx of refugees has also put Berlin under a cloud of scrutiny, with the city repeatedly called out by local media for being overly sensitive to refugees and asylum seekers.
In March, Berlin was the first major European city to take in a group from outside the European Union, following similar moves in London and Dublin.
“For me, it’s really important for Berlin to get back to being a city of immigrants and refugees,” Kresgae told Al Jazeera.
“The question is, what are the problems that we will need to solve before that?”
The candidate for Berlin’s mayor is also the candidate for an open seat in the Berlin state parliament, which is set to elect a new mayor in December, and the candidate has also been named as the candidate to become Berlin’s next chancellor, according to her website.
As Germany’s capital is often considered a bastion of the liberal and open Left, Berlin is often accused of being too liberal and pro-business.
In recent months, Berlin, which has a population of around 1.2 million, has seen an uptick in violence, particularly after the attacks of December 2015, when a man driving a stolen truck attacked a group protesting against the government’s decision to lower the threshold for asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the country.
The truck driver, who was shot dead by police, was named the man behind the attack, a decision widely condemned.
In 2017, Berlin saw a wave of anti-foreigner violence following the deportation of several hundred people from the eastern city of Rostock, which was also the site of a protest by migrants against the deportation.
“I’m very, very happy to be elected Berlin mayor,” said Kresgoe.
The candidates for Berlin will meet with the candidates for the state parliament in January. “
But I think it’s important to remember the city is a city for people from different backgrounds and different cultures.”
The candidates for Berlin will meet with the candidates for the state parliament in January.
As well as the local elections, candidates for city and regional offices will be on the ballot in the coming weeks, with a general election taking place in 2018.
Berlin’s new mayor will be selected in December by the city council, with election results due by January.
Kresges candidacy is expected, however, to be closely watched by other Berlin candidates, who will have to prove their readiness to tackle the influx of migrants and refugees into the city.
The candidates will be able to focus on their own policies in an environment of a refugee crisis that is already facing Berlin, with Germany seeing a spike in the number of asylum seekers arriving in the German capital in recent months.
“You will have an opportunity to show the country and Berlin that you are not afraid of people from other countries,” said Berlin’s deputy mayor, Alexander Dobrindt, a member of the city parliament for the ruling Social Democrats.
“If you want to make your city safe for everybody, then you have to show that you can do it.”
In Berlin, the candidate of choice for the mayoralty of the former capital has been a woman, a woman who is also a social worker and a woman with a degree in human rights, according the German website Die Welt.
“In this political campaign, we need to find a woman in the race,” said Koblenz, a representative of the German far-right party Alternative for Germany.
“Her platform is different from our current candidate’s and it’s a different voice.
I hope she can bring new energy to the race.”