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Mayors and political parties

In 2015
Mayor of Seoul, South Korea (04/2015)
Mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands (03/2015)
Mayor of Houston, USA, (02/2015)
Mayor of Pristina, Kosovo (01/2015)

In 2014
Mayor of Warsaw, Poland, (12/2014)
Governor of Tokyo, Japan, (11/2014)
Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand (10/2014)
Mayor of Sucre, Miranda, Venezuela (09/2014)
Mayor of Vienna, Austria (08/2014)
Mayor of Lampedusa, Italy (07/2014)
Mayor of Ghent, Belgium (06/2014)
Mayor of Montería, Colombia (05/2014)
Mayor of Liverpool, UK (04/2014)
Mayor of Pittsford Village, NY, USA (03/2014)
Mayor of Surabaya, Indonesia (02/2014)
Mayor of Santiago, Chile (01/2014)

In 2013
Mayor of Soda, India (12/2013)
Mayor of Zaragoza (11/2013)
Mayor of Marseille (10/2013)
Mayor of Schwäbisch Gmünd (09/2013)
Mayor of Detroit (08/2013)
Mayor of Moore (07/2013)
Mayor of Mexico City (06/2013)
Mayor of Cape Town (05/2013)
Mayor of Lima (04/2013)
Mayor of Salerno (03/2013)
Governor of Jakarta (02/2013)
Mayor of Rio de Janeiro (01/2013)

In 2012
Mayor of Izmir (12/2012)
Mayor of San Antonio (11/2012)
Mayor of Thessaloniki (10/2012)
Mayor of London (09/2012)
Mayor of New York (08/2012)
Mayor of Bilbao (07/2012)
Mayor of Bogotá (06/2012)
Mayor of Perth (05/2012)
Mayor of Mazatlán (04/2012)
Mayor of Tel Aviv (03/2012)
Mayor of Surrey (02/2012)
Mayor of Osaka (01/2012)

In 2011
Mayor of Ljubljana (12/2011)

World Mayor 2014

Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa |

German Mayors
Researched and edited by Jonas Schorr

15 January 2015: Germany is a country made up of thousands of towns and cities, all with directly elected mayors. A city (Großstadt) is officially defined as an administration unit with a population greater than 100,000. As of 2013, there are 76 cities in Germany. Only four cities, Berlin, Hamburg, München (Munich) and Köln (Cologne), are Millionenstädte - cities with a population of more than one million. Nine cities have a population of more than 500,000 people. The mayors’ terms of office vary between five and nine years, depending on the state. Each municipal council is headed by an elected mayor, known as Bürgermeister  - or Oberbürgermeister (lord mayor) in most larger cities.

According to the latest statistics (World Urbanization Prospects, 2011 Revision), 74 per cent of Germans (some 63 million people) live in urban areas, ie. in its approximately 6,000 towns and cities. Germany’s 300 largest cities and towns alone house half of the populace. Despite high numbers of one million people immigrating to Germany every year, the size of Germany’s urban population is generally stagnating given its already high rate of urbanisation and a generally decreasing population. There are exceptions to the rule, however, as Berlin and Munich for example are attracting a larger share of newcomers and so are projected to grow by tens of thousands every year until 2030.

Mayors of the largest German cities

City, size
website and state
(Mr, Ms)
Popl: 276,542
Kurt Gribl (Mr) Elected 2008; re-elected in
2014; Next elections 2020
Born 1964, PhD in law from University of Augsburg and practicing lawyer
Party: CSU*
Popl: 3,421,829
(Federal capital, city-state)
Michael Müller (Mr) Elected in 2014; Next elections 2016 1964, trained as a printer, previously Mayor and Senator for Urban Development and the Environment, Chairman of the parliamentary faction and State Chairman of the SPD; Party: SPD
Popl: 328,864
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Pit Clausen (Mr) Elected 2009; re-elected in 2014;
Next elections 2020
Born 1962, studied law at University of Bielefeld and practicing lawyer, councilor since 1994, lost first candidature in 2004;
Party: SPD
Popl: 361,734;
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Ottilie Scholz (Ms) Elected in 2004; re-elected in 2009 and 2014
Next elections 2020
Born 1948, PhD in sociology, psychology and pedagogy, politically active since 1980s, city manager of Castrop-Rauxel 1997-9
Party: SPD
Popl: 311,287
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Jürgen Nimptsch (Mr) Elected 2009; not running for re-election in 2015 Born 1954, teacher, actor, school director 1996-2009
Party: SPD
Popl: 548,547;
(Free and Hanseatic city, city-state)
Jens Böhrnsen (Mr) Elected 2005; re-elected 2007 and 2011;
Next elections May 2015
Born 1949, studied law at University of Kiel, judge, coucilor since 1995, President of Federal Council of Germany 2009-2010 and shortly President of the Federal Republic of Germany
Party: SPD
Cologne / Köln
Popl: 1,034,175
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Jürgen Roters (Mr) Elected 2009
Next elections September 2015
Born 1949, national champion in athletics, then lawyer, now also President of the German athletics team
Party: SPD, candidature also supported by Greens
Popl: 575,944;
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Ullrich Sierau (Mr) Elected 2009; re-elected in 2010 and 2014;
Next elections 2020
Born 1956, fled East Germany in his youth, studied urban planning at TU Dortmund, active civil servant since 1986
Party: SPD
Popl: 530,754;
(State capital of Saxony)
Helma Orosz (Ms) Elected 2008;
will step down in February 2015 due to health reasons
Born 1953, kindergarden teacher by vocation who became principle, started studies in public administration aged 45, engaged in politics since 2000
Party: CDU
Popl: 486,855;
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Sören Link (Mr) Elected since 2012; Next elections 2018 1976, joined SPD in 1993, member of state parliament 2005-2012 working in education, media and home affairs committees; Party: SPD
Popl: 598,686;
(State capital of North Rhine-Westphalia)
Thomas Geisel (Mr) Elected 2014
Next elections 2020
Born 1963, son of former Baden-Württemberg state parliament vice-president, studied law and political science in Germany, Switzerland and US, worked from 1994-2013 for federal privatization agency Treuhandanstalt (Berlin) and energy giants Enron (London) and Ruhrgas (Essen); Party: SPD
Popl: 574,635
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Reinhard Paß (Mr) Elected 2009
Next elections September 2015
Born 1955, studied chemistry, councilor since 1994
Party: SPD
Frankfurt am Main
Popl: 701,350;
Peter Feldmann (Mr) Elected in 2012
Next elections 2018
Born 1959, an economist and political scientist. First Jewish mayor of a major German city since WWII. One of the founders of the group Jewish Social Democrats within the Social Democratic Party; 1989-2012 served as City Councilor and party deputy Chairman focused on children, youths, the unemployed and elderly care issues;
Party: SPD
Pop: 257.850
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Frank Baranowski (Mr) Elected 2004; re-elected 2009, 2014; Next election 2020 Born 1962, teacher for German and history, 1995-2004 member of the state parliament, 2000-2004 deputy chairman of the state SPD faction; Party: SPD
Popl: 1,746,342;
(Free and Hanseatic city, city-state)
Olaf Scholz (Mr) Elected 2011
Next elections February 2015
Born 1958, lawyer, 1998-2011 Member of German parliament, 2002-2004 general secretary of the SPD, 2007-2009 Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, since 2009 deputy chairman of SPD; Party: SPD
Hanover / Hannover
Popl: 518,386;
(State capital of Lower Saxony)
Stefan Schostock (Mr) Elected 2013
Next elections 2021
Born 1964, former social pedagogue and researcher for political media and industrial union, 2000-2009 chairman of the Hanover-SPD, 2010-2013 chairman of the SPD state parliament faction; Party: SPD
Popl: 294,761
Frank Mentrup (Mr) Elected 2013;
Next elections 2020
Born 1964, trained paramedic and doctor, 1993-2011 practising psychiatrist for children and young people, 2006-2013 member of state parliament working on youth and education issues; Party: SPD
Popl: 531.562
Burkhard Jung (Mr) Elected 2006; re-elected 2013; Next elections 2020 Born 1958, teacher, later school principal, involved in 2012 Leipzig Olympic Games bid and 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, board member of EUROCITIES and German Association of Towns and Cities; Party: SPD
Popl: 296,690
(University town, Baden-Württemberg)
Peter Kurz (Mr) Elected 2007
Next elections 2015
Born 1962, lawyer and judge, PhD, councilor since 1984, became mayor for education, culture and sports in 1999 until elected Lord mayor
Party: SPD
Munich / München
Popl: 1,407,836
(State capital, Bavaria)
Dieter Reiter (Mr) Elected 2014
Next elections 2020
Born 1958, studied public administration, 1981-2009 worked for the city administration of Munich, became city councilor in 2009 and joined the SPD in 2011; Party: SPD
Popl: 299,708
(University town, North Rhine-Westphalia)
Markus Lewe (Mr) Elected 2009
Next elections September 2015
Born 1965, studied public administration, elected district mayor in 1999, also chairman of the supervisory board of Münster/ Osnabrück airport
Party: CDU
Nuremberg / Nürnberg
Popl: 498,876
Ulrich Maly (Mr) Elected 2002; re-elected 2008 and 2014
Next elections 2020
Born 1960, studied economics and public law, PhD, politically active since 1967, member of numerous supervisory boards in publicly owned companies, award juries and charities, since 2013 President of the Association of German Cities; Party: SPD
Popl: 604,297
(State capital of Baden-Württemberg)
Fritz Kuhn (Mr) Elected 2012; Next elections 2020 Born 1955, German studies and philosophy, lecturer for linguistics, 2000-2002 Chairman of the Federal Green party, 2002-2013 member of the German federal parliament, 2005-2009 Chairman of the Federal parliament faction; Party: The Greens
Popl: 275.976
(State capital of Hesse)
Sven Gerich (Mr) Elected 2013; Next elections 2019 Born 1974, trained as carpenter, worked later as a printer, joined SPD in 2003, 2006-2013 elected local politician, 2011 elected faction chairman in local parliament; Party: SPD
Popl: 343,488
(North Rhine-Westphalia)
Peter Jung (Mr) Elected 2004, 2009
Next elections September 2015
Born 1955, trained as banker, studied business administration, 1981-2004 worked for private businesses, elected mayor in 2000 prior to becoming Lord mayor; Party: CDU
*Political parties:
Social Democrats, SPD (“Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands”); centre-left
Christian Democrats, CDU (“Christlisch-Demokratische Union”); centre-right
Christian Social Union, CSU (“Christlich-Soziale Union”); centre-right, “sister” party of CDU active only in Bavaria
The Greens (“Die Grünen”); centre-left, environmental
**Population numbers as of 31 December 2013, compiled from the regional statistical offices in Germany and the Federal Statistical Office Germany (DESTATIS)

Local government in Germany
Additional contributions by Urs Enke, Gregor Gosciniak,
Irmelind Kirchner and Jens Tessmann

Germany is a federal parliamentary democracy, made up of 16 federal states (Länder). The Länder are North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Schleswig-Holstein, Sachsen-Anhalt, Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rheinland Pfalz, Saarland, and Thuringia, and the city-states Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen.
Each Land elects a regional parliament, or Landtag, for a five year term which in turn appoints the state administration (Landsregierung) headed by a minister-president (Ministerpräsident). The Länder are mainly responsible for culture, education, environment and policing, with a number of shared responsibilities with the federal government over legal and penal issues.

In all but one of the 16 Länder, the council system exists whereby each local government, in the form of the municipal council, is generally elected for a five year term, though this can vary between four and six years. Each council is headed by an elected mayor, known as the Bürgermeister - or Oberbürgermeister in larger cities - who acts as head of both the council and the administration. The mandate can vary from four to nine years. In Hesse however, the magistrat system is used, whereby the mayor presides over magistrates appointed by the council to act as the administration. Common responsibilities of this tier include planning, water management, social welfare and the building and maintenance of schools. Some councils also engage in cultural, economic development and energy-related activities, depending on the Land.

Today there are around 14,000 municipalities across Germany. Above the local tier and beneath the Länder, a tier of 300 units of local administration known as Kreise (districts) also exists. These are overseen by a district council, with a mandate varying between one and four years, again depending on the Land. Aside from the legislative function of its council, the administration (Landratsamt) is headed by a district president (Landrat), who is either appointed by the council or directly elected for a five to eight year term. This tier engages in the construction and maintenance of roads, some aspects of social welfare and waste management, though some are also able to engage in tourism promotion, libraries and higher education.
Cities represent the lowest level within the three administrative levels (federal, state, municipal) in Germany. The Federation and the Länder put certain tasks to the municipalities – they are also supposed to allocate the corresponding funding with it which, in reality, is not always the case. Within the framework of self-administration, the cities organise and administrate their own voluntary activities which they also have to pay for with their own budgets.

All public services are generally managed locally, like (waste) water management, waste disposal, energy supply and such. The municipality is free to handle activities in these fields on their own or decide to outsource them to private businesses, which has become a common practice during recent years. Other voluntary activities are overseen by the municipality as well. In addition, most activities commissioned by the Land are carried out by the responsible municipal administrations as the lowest official body in the federal system. These include the organisation of elections, the registration for the military and so on.

Recommended further reading
The participation of citizens in German local government
Local government in Germany shaped by regional differences

The winner of the 2014 World Mayor Prize amd other resuts will be announced on 3 February 2015

Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin

Dieter Reiter, Mayor of Munich

Peter Feldmann, Mayor of Frankfurt

Ottilie Scholz, Mayor of Bochum

Helma Grosz, Mayor of Dresden

Jens Böhrnsen, Mayor of Bremen

Jürgen Roters, Mayor of Cologne

Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg