Successor to klaus wowereit: heir to the throne sought

SPD leader Jan Stob and parliamentary group leader Raed Saleh would like to replace Berlin’s governing mayor. But their duel is off.

Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit, here with SPD faction leader Raed Saleh (r.), may soon take his hat off. Photo: dpa

For two weeks, there was something like an election campaign in Berlin. For two weeks, everything looked as if a decision would finally be made on the question of who would succeed Klaus Wowereit (SPD), governing mayor since 2001 and tarnished by the series of mishaps at the planned major airport BER.

For two weeks, the question of succession to the throne was expected to be settled at the SPD party congress in mid-May: that was how long Raed Saleh, the SPD’s parliamentary group leader in Berlin’s House of Representatives, was considering whether to run against Jan Stob, the incumbent SPD party leader in Berlin. But Sunday afternoon Saleh announced his renunciation of the duel. "Jan Stob has my full support," Saleh announced. A bit hypocritical, the whole thing.

Because Stob does not need this support, at least not at the party conference. He is not only the only candidate. The fact that Saleh is not running is also due to the fact that he can calculate well: Since the end of last week, it was clear that he did not have enough district associations behind him. A defeat would certainly have thrown him out of the race to succeed Wowereit. The next election to the House of Representatives is expected to take place in the fall of 2016.

For almost two years, the debate about the time after Wowereit has flared up again and again – mostly after another opening date for the broken-down BER airport had to be postponed. Klaus Wowereit was for a long time and since December again the head of the supervisory board of the airport company, which is supported by the federal government and the two states of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Too many potential successors

Wowereit would have been ousted long ago. But there is no successor. Instead of one person for the boss’s chair in Berlin’s Red City Hall, a whole series of people come into question: In addition to Stob and Saleh, the name of Labor Senator Dilek Kolat, who most recently distinguished herself in the dissolution of the refugee camp in Kreuzberg, comes to mind.

And if a referendum were to be held, as some district associations are calling for, Michael Muller, the senator for urban development, and Eva Hogl, a member of the Bundestag, would also stand a good chance.

Differences in content play only a subordinate role: All of those named would probably classify themselves as SPD leftists – who, however, always keep the step to the right open. Saleh even does this actively in cooperation with the CDU as a government partner.

When it comes to the question of succession, the party leader is the first to be asked for his opinion. That is why Saleh would have been as good as set after a successful election as party leader at the party conference. At the end of March, a one-and-a-half-page report on him entitled "Der Kronprinz" ("The Crown Prince") appeared in Der Spiegel magazine, and a few days later rumors circulated that Saleh wanted to run against the incumbent party leader Stob. Saleh, a 36-year-old native of Palestine, did not deny the rumor and merely announced that he was on vacation. Until Sunday.

"It’s good that there is clarity now. Because the speculation in the past two weeks has not benefited the party," Stob commented on the withdrawal. Klaus Wowereit gave on Monday on inquiry of the taz no information. While large parts of the party assume that the longest-serving prime minister of the country will not run again, the governor leaves it explicitly open. Only at the end of 2015, beginning of 2016, so the official language regulation, he wants to explain whether he would be available once again.

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