BERLIN – After more than 13 years in office, Klaus Wowereit announced he will be resigning on Dec. 11 of this year. He is Berlin’s first openly gay mayor and helped turn the city into a leading tourist destination.
Wowereit’s reputation has taken a beating over struggles in the construction of Berlin’s new international airport and is coined the phrase “Poor, but sexy,” slogan which helped to bring global youngers to the city.
“It’s good that the city has internationalized itself, but it’s also as important that the city remains livable,” Wowereit said.
The politician still had two more years in office but says that the speculation over his future amid his plummeting popularity made it hard to govern.
His “greatest defeat” was that the Willy Brandt airport planned for the capital has yet to open. It was first scheduled to be ready in late 2011 but has been repeatedly delayed. Costs have doubled to more than 5.4 billion euros or $7.1 billion. Opening date for the airport has yet to be determined.
He governed for a decade in a coalition with the formerly communist Left Party, but formed a coalition with the state branch Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats after the 2011 elections.
Even though he is criticized for leaving behind an unfinished airport project and other issues, National Left Party leader Gregor Gysi says he should be given credit for “an important chapter in the development of Berlin.”
“He had a big role in ensuring that the German capital has become a metropolis. Especially culturally Berlin has significantly advanced,” Gysi said.
“It was also to Klaus Wowereit’s great credit that he was the first politician to openly declare his homosexuality, which clearly gave great support to the fight for equality by lesbians and gay men,” Gysi commented.