Berlin Mayor Mueller Sworn In, Ending Wowereit’s 13-Year RunPatrick Donahue
Social Democrat Michael Mueller was sworn in as mayor of Berlin, succeeding Klaus Wowereit, who became the face of Germany’s capital during an administration that lasted more than 13 years.
Mueller, ousted as Wowereit’s top lieutenant in 2012, made a surprise entry into this year’s race and defeated two candidates initially seen as the most likely successors.
Wowereit, 61, who coined Berlin’s label as “poor but sexy,” commanded broad popularity in the city and nationwide until his standing was damaged by delays and overruns for the city’s new airport, which is years behind schedule and still has not opened.
Berlin’s SPD governs the city-state of 3.5 million in a so-called grand coalition with the Christian Democrats, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Wowereit, who shot to prominence during his 2001 election campaign by declaring “I’m gay and that’s a good thing,” was Berlin’s longest serving mayor since reunification in 1990, which ended the city’s Cold War division.
When Wowereit announced his resignation on Aug. 26, 41-year-old state party chairman Jan Stoess, who pushed Mueller out of the post two years ago, and the SPD parliamentary floor leader, Palestinian-born Raed Saleh, 37, stepped forward to seek the office.
Mueller, 50, a long-time fixture in city politics who has been minister for city development since 2011, opted to enter the race late and ultimately beat out the two lesser known figures in a statewide party-membership ballot.