Klaus Wowereit steps down as Berlin’s mayor

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Klaus Wowereit | 2006 | Getty | 14479

After a long career in Berlin politics, Klaus Wowereit stepped down as Mayor of Berlin on 11 December 2014.

Wowereit first entered mayoral office after being elected the district mayor for Berlin-Tempelhof when he was 30, becoming the youngest politician ever elected to the city legislature. In 2001, following the collapse of the Berliner State Bank, Mayor Eberhard Diepgen stepped down. “Wowi” as he’s affectionately known, had worked his way high enough in the ranks to win the Social Democratic Party (SPD)’s nomination.

Wowereit came out as gay in his 2001 mayoral campaign, when he was told that tabloid newspapers were about to out him. “I am gay and that is a good thing,” Wowereit said as he publicly came out. He was cheered by party members at the announcement. “… and that is a good thing” became a catchphrase associated with “Wowi”. In 2010, Wowereit told Time Magazine that his coming out strengthened his campaign. At the time of his resignation, he was the only openly gay mayor leading a major European city.

His final day in Berlin’s Rote Rathaus (Red City Hall) were marked with well-wishes and flowers from his colleagues. As he left, he said “Tschüss!” and someone answered “See you soon!” to which the outgoing mayor only responded with a “nö” in true Berliner form.

Wowereit is a life-long Berliner and lives with his partner of 21 years, neurosurgeon Jörn Kubicki.

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