Wolfgang Schuster, Mayor of Stuttgart, Germany

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Stuttgart City Hall

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Wolfgang Schuster
Mayor of Stuttgart
By Andrew Stevens

12 January 2008: Stuttgart's two-term mayor has civic experience as his city's deputy mayor and political adviser and as mayor of an adjacent town. Well-known on the global and European stages, he is known also his signature child-friendly policies and hopes for a major transport-led redevelopment of the city centre.

Born in 1949 in the city of Ulm, also in Baden-Württemberg, Schuster was schooled at the Humboldt grammar school in the city before a year's military service. He then engaged in studies in politics and law, finally obtaining a doctorate in civil law. During his student days Schuster entered the Catholic youth society Guestfalia Tübingen and served as deputy chair of the student senate. He then attended the Ecole National d'Administration in Paris as a postgraduate.

Schuster gained election to the council of the city of Ulm in 1975, on which he sat until 1980. In 1978 he entered the civil service of the Baden-Württemberg, working to two Christian Democrat (CDU) minister-presidents of the period. He then took on the post of executive director to veteran CDU mayor of Stuttgart Manfred Rommel (son of the famous military figure) in 1980, who had governed the city since 1974.

In 1986 he left his post with the Stuttgart administration to become mayor of the town of Schwäbish-Gmund, which he held until 1993, when he became deputy mayor for education and culture back in Stuttgart, again under Manfred Rommel. Schuster succeeded Rommel in 1997 when he was elected over the Green candidate on the second round. He received another eight-year term in 2004, beating the Social Democrat candidate on the second round, having obtained the tacit support of the Greens.

The mayor regards his governing project as being to retain the city's leading edge economically, amid industrial restructuring in the wider German economy and its attendant effect on other municipalities. The city of Stuttgart, state capital of Baden Wurttemberg, is renowned for its high quality of life, owing to the presence of a number of blue chip companies (such as Daimler and Porsche and global firms IBM and Hewlett Packard) and as a longstanding base for high tech industries. As with the rest of the state, its political leaning tends toward the centre-right CDU, who have governed both continuously throughout the party's entire existence.

Schuster has also attracted attention for his aim to make Stuttgart the most child-friendly city in Germany, establishing the EU Cities for Children network and pursuing a number of child-centred policies. The city's Stuttgart 21 plan to renovate the city's existing rail station to become a regional rail hub and free up prime city centre land for redevelopment has been given the go-ahead by the federal and regional government but is facing court challenges by opponents of the scheme.

Schuster is married to Stephanie, a physician, and has three children. He sits on the executives of the German Cities Association, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and the worldwide United Cities and Local Governments organisation.

World Mayor 2023