Klaus Wowereit held the office of Governing Mayor of Berlin from 2001 – 2014 and was the “face” of the capital for around 13 years. During his tenure, he decisively shaped the capital city’s image – not least by coining the phrase “Berlin is poor, but sexy”. Wowereit is one of the most colourful figures in German politics and can look back on a stratospheric party and political career.

Born in 1953 to a single mother in the Tempelhof district of West Berlin, Wowereit grew up with four siblings. After completing high school with the German Abitur, he studied law at the Free University of Berlin and graduated with his first state exam in 1979. He then worked as a trainee solicitor before passing his second state exam in 1981. Wowereit then worked at as a civil servant in the Senate Office of the Interior in Berlin.

Klaus Wowereit has been a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) since 1972 and was active in the Berlin Young Socialists during his law degree. In 1979, he became a borough councillor for Berlin-Tempelhof, a post he held until 1984, when he was elected head of the Department for Education and Culture. Klaus Wowereit was Berlin’s youngest city councillor, but resigned his position after being elected to the Berlin House of Deputies, where he became deputy leader of the SPD parliamentary group, succeeding as its leader in 1999.

In 2001, he succeeded Eberhard Diepgen as the Governing Mayor of Berlin with the support of a voting coalition between the SPD, PDS and B90/The Greens. He was re-elected in 2006 and 2011. In 2003, Wowereit became one of four Berlin state representatives on the supervisory board of the project to build Berlin’s new airport and chaired this body between 2008 and 2013. On 26 August 2014, he announced his resignation as Governing Mayor of Berlin as per 11 December of the same year. He has been an honorary board member of the Association of Berlin Merchants and Industrialists since early 2015.

During his tenure as mayor, Wowereit succeeded in strengthening the economy and forging social cohesion in the city, giving Berlin a significant boost. The motto of his first policy speech “Mit Mut für Berlin” (With courage for Berlin) provided the common theme throughout his time in office. Wowereit’s open and winning personality has contributed towards making Berlin the globally recognized, appealing and cosmopolitan metropolis it is today.

Speaking Topics Klaus Wowereit

  • Urban development
  • Environmental problems in major cities – water, sewage and waste
  • Growth as a challenge for major cities
  • Berlin before and after the fall of the wall – a capital in the course of time
  • Work and the economy
  • Education