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GERMAN WOMEN MAYORS

In Germany only 9%

of mayors are women

By Tann vom Hove, German Brief *

German women mayors

Germany’s female mayors

August 2023: There is no denying it, Germany’s cities are still overwhelmingly ruled by men. After the rather short tenure of Franziska Giffey in Berlin, there is only one female mayor among the country’s top ten cities. Of the 80 Grossstädte – cities with more than 100,000 residents - only ten have women mayors. The best known one, and one of Germany’s longest-serving mayors, is Cologne’s Henriette Reker. Elected in 2015, after she survived an assassination attempt, Henriette Reker has become a role model for women in local government (Kommunalverwaltung).

 

Germany’s largest cities with female mayors

• Rank 4: Cologne (1,074,000) Mayor Heriette Reker

• Rank 19: Bonn (332,000) Mayor Katja Dörner

• Rank 23: Augsburg (297,000) Mayor Eva Weber

• Rank 26: Gelsenkirchen (261,000) Mayor Karin Welge

• Rank 27: Aachen (250,000) Mayor Sibylle Keupen

• Rank 32: Magdeburg (237,000) Mayor Simone Borris

• Rank 39: Rostock (209,000) Mayor Eva-Maria Kröger

• Rank 45: Ludwigshafen (173,000) Mayor Jutta Steinruck

• Rank 48: Osnabrück (166,000) Mayor Katharina Pötter

• Rank 54: Regensburg (154,000) Mayor Gertrud Malts-Schwarzfischer

 

Women in German local government

In 2022, research by the Berlin-based Heinrich Böll Foundation found that the number of women elected to German town and city councils (Stadträte) is increasing, albeit at a very slow rate. In 2011, women made up some 33 per cent of council members, a figure that stood at slightly above 37 per cent in 2022. Only in Kassel (Hesse), women formed a majority in the city parliament. Other cities with more than 45 per cent of female councillors include Offenbach, Frankfurt, Mainz, Nürnberg, Darmstadt and Würzburg. Communities in the Ruhr region perform below par. In cities like Gelsenkirchen, Solingen and Salzgitter women make up less than 30 per cent of local councillors.

 

Profile of women mayors

Germany’s most recent research into women in local government was conducted by German Brief. The survey’s authors looked at communities which are led by Lord Mayors (Oberbürgermeister). In large cities and unitary towns (kreisfreie Städte) the heads of local government carry the title Oberbürgermeister rather than Bürgermeister (mayor). The research involved some 331 cities.

 

German Brief found that among the 331 towns and cities surveyed only 29 (8.8%) had women as mayors. As said above, the group’s best-known member is Cologne’s mayor Henriette Reker. In office since 2015, she survived an assassination attempt during her first mayoral campaign. Prior to her election, she was deputy mayor in Gelsenkirchen and later, from 2010 to 2015, deputy mayor in Cologne. In 2020, she was elected for a second term.

 

Germany’s longest-serving female mayor is Cornelia Petzold-Schick, the mayor of Bruchsal (Baden-Württemberg). In 2009, it took her two rounds of voting for to be chosen, whereas eight years later, she won re-election in the first round with more than three quarters of the vote (78%). (In Baden-Württemberg, mayors serve eight-year terms).

 

While the number of female mayors in Germany is deplorably low, there are some hopeful signs. Since 2020, some 18 women were for the first time elected to the office of Oberbürgermeister. Among them, Eva Weber in Augsburg; Gertrud Malts-Schwarzfischer in Regensburg; Eva-Maria Kröger in Rostock; Katharina Pötter in Osnabrück; Sibylle Keupen in Aachen and Katja Dörner in Bonn.

 

Most women mayors have academic qualifications, mostly in law. While there are eleven mayors with legal degrees, German Brief could only identify three women who did not go to university but instead completed an apprenticeship after finishing high school.

 

Among the group of 29 female mayors there are eight who ran as independents. Politically, independents tend to be centrists, often supporting environmental policies. Seven mayors belong the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). The centre-right sister parties CDU and CSU can count on five mayors. The Green party is represented by two mayors, while three female mayors belong to the left-wing party Die Linke (the Left).

 

German political parties
• Social Democrats, SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands); centre-left
• Christian Democrats, CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union); centre-right
• Christian Social Union, CSU (Christlich Soziale Union); centre-right, sister party of the CDU, active only in Bavaria
• The Greens (Die Grünen); centre-left, environmental

• The Left (Die Linke); left-wing

• Alternative for Germany. AfD (Alternative für Deutschland); right-wing

• Free Voters (Freie Wähler); local or regional political associations, supporting mostly centre-right and conservative policies.

Germany’s women mayors

BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG

Bruchsal

Population: 47,000

Mayor: Cornelia Petzold-Schick

In office since: 2009

Party / Politics: Independent (centre)

Notes: Born Mai 1964. Studied law. Worked for state crime office and as local government civil servant. Entered politics in 2005. Contact

Fellbach-Gabriele-Zull-300.jpg

Fellbach

Population: 46,000

Mayor: Gabriele Zull

In office since: 2016

Party / Politics: Independent

Notes: Born February 1967. Studied law. Worked as civil servant in local government. Entered politics in 2011. Contact

Metzingen-Carmen-Haberstroh-300.jpg

Metzingen

Population: 23,000

Mayor: Carmen Haberstroh

In office since: Since 2021

Party / Politics: Free Voters, Freie Wähler, FW, (centre-right, conservative)

Notes: Born December 1971. Studied public administration. Worked as civil servant in local and district government. Entered politics in 2016. Contact

Schramberg-Dorothee-Eisenlohr-300.jpg

Schramberg

Population: 21,000

Mayor: Dorothee Eisenlohr

In office since: 2019

Party / Politics: Independent (conservative)

Notes: Born March 1982. Studied languages and cultural science. Worked as freelance journalist and editor. Managerial roles in regional government and economic development. Developed an interest for politics as a teenager. Contact

Stutensee-Petra_Becker-300.jpg

Stutensee

Population: 25,000

Mayor: Petra Becker

In office since: 2018

Party / Politics: Independent (centre)

Notes: Born 1961. Studied law. Worked as lawyer in local government. Entered politics in 2018. Contact

Augsburg-Eva-Weber-300.jpg

BAYERN (Bavaria)

Augsburg

Population: 297,000

Mayor: Eva Weber

In office since: May 2020

Party / Politics: CSU (conservative)

Notes: Born May 1977. Studied law. Worked for Chamber of Commerce. Entered politics in 2014. Contact

Landsberg-Baumgartl-300.jpg

Landsberg am Lech

Population: 30,000

Mayor: Doris Baumgartl

In office since: May 2020

Party / Politics: Independent (centre)

Notes: Born 1962. Studied public administration. Worked in local government and in public relations for municipal clinics in Munich. Entered politics in 2014. Contact

Lindau-Claudia-Alfons-300.jpg

Lindau

Population: 26,000

Mayor: Claudia Alfons

In office since: May 2020

Party / Politics: Independent (liberal centre)

Notes: Born 1983. Studied law. Worked for a number of international law firms. Appointed public prosecutor and judge. Entered politics in 2020. Contact

Neu-Ulm-Katrin-Albsteiger-300.jpg

Neu-Ulm

Population: 60,000

Mayor: Katrin Albsteiger

In office since: May 2020

Party / Politics: CSU (conservative)

Notes: Born November 1983. Studied political science. Worked in corporate communication for utility company. Entered politics in 2013. Contact

Regensburg-Gertrud Malts-Schwarzfischer-300.jpg

Regensburg

Population: 154,000

Mayor: Gertrud Malts-Schwarzfischer

In office since: May 2020

Party / Politics: SPD (centre-left)

Notes: Born August 1960. Studied archaeology. Worked for museums and as independent archaeologist. Entered politics in 1995. Contact

Rostock-Eva-Maria_Kröger-Jonas-300.jpg

MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMER

Rostock

Population: 209,000

Mayor: Eva-Maria Kröger

In office since: 2022

Party / Politics: Die Linke (left-wing)

Notes: Born June 1982. Studied political sciences. Worked as freelance journalist and later as parliamentary adviser for a number of members of the German parliament (Bundestag). Contact

Delmenhorst-Petra-Gerlach-300.jpg

NIEDERSACHSEN (Lower Saxony)

Delmenhorst

Population: 78,000

Mayor: Petra Gerlach

In office since: 2021

Party / Politics: CDU (centre-right)

Notes: Born 1972. Studied public administration. Spent most of her professional life in local government. Entered politics in 2021. Contact

goslar-urte-schwerdtner-300.jpg

Goslar

Population: 50,000

Mayor: Urte Schwerdtner

In office since: 2021

Party / Politics: SPD (centre-left)

Notes: Born September 1963. Studied law. Appointed public prosecutor and later judge. Entered politics in 2011. Contact

Lueneburg-Claudia-Kalisch-300.jpg

Lüneburg

Population: 76,000

Mayor: Claudia Kalisch

In office since: 2021

Party / Politics: Die Grünen (Greens)

Notes: Born April 1972. Studied environmental sciences and sustainability management. University post in sustainability management and worked later for a sustainable energy distributor. Entered politics in 2010. Contact

Osnabrueck-Katharina-Poetter-300.jpg

Osnabrück

Population: 166,000

Mayor: Katharina Pötter

In office since: 2021

Party / Politics: CDU (centre-right)

Notes: Born July 1979. Studied law. Worked briefly as lawyer, followed by a 12-year career in a government educational authority. Entered politics in 2001. Contact

Aachen-Sybille-Keupen-300.jpg

NORDRHEIN-WESTFALEN

(North Rhine-Westphalia)

Aachen

Population: 250,000

Mayor: Sibylle Keupen

In office since: 2020

Party / Politics: Independent (pro-environment)

Notes: Born 1963. Studied pedagogy and social sciences. Founder of a youth art school and managed an educational and cultural institution. Entered politics in 2020. Contact

Bonn-Doerner-Katja-300.jpg

Bonn

Population: 332,000

Mayor: Katja Dörner

In office since: 2020

Party / Politics: Die Grünen (Greens)

Notes: Born in February 1976; Studied political sciences, civic law and linguistics. Worked for a political think tank and was later appointed to the board of a children’s charity. Contact

Gelsenkirchen-Karin-Welge-300.jpg

Gelsenkirchen

Population: 261,000

Mayor: Karin Welge

In office since: 2020

Party / Politics:SPD (centre-left)

Notes: October 1962; Studied law and European integration. Taught civic administration law as well as environmental law and public finance. Entered politics in 2019. Contact

Cologne-Henriette-Reker-300.jpg

Köln (Cologne)

Population: 1,074,000

Mayor: Henriette Reker

In office since: 2015

Party / Politics: Independent (politically centre)

Notes: Born November 1956; Studied law; Worked as legal executive for a health insurer. Later worked for local government in Gelsenkirchen and Cologne. Survived an assassination attempt shortly before the 2015 election. Contact

ludwigshafen-jutta-steinruck-300.jpg

RHEINLAND-PFALZ

(Rhineland-Palatinate)

Ludwigshafen

Population: 173,000

Mayor: Jutta Steinruck

In office since: 2018

Party / Politics: Independent. In August 2023, Steinruck left the   SPD (centre-left) for personal reasons.

Notes: Born September 1962. Studied business to degree level. Worked in human resources for a stock-exchange listed company. From 2009 to 2018 member of the European Parliament. Entered politics in 1996. Contact

Speyer-Stefanie-Seiler-300.jpg

Speyer

Population: 51,000

Mayor: Stefanie Seiler

In office since: 2019

Party / Politics: SPD (centre-left)

Notes: Born August 1983. Studied sociology. Was appointed to a number of positions within the local and regional SPD party. Entered politics in 2002. Contact

Voelklingen_Blatt_Christiane-300.jpg

SAARLAND

Völklingen

Population: 40,000

Mayor: Christiane Blatt

In office since: 2017

Party / Politics: SPD (centre-left)

Notes: Born January 1966. Apprenticeship in commerce. Certified foreign language secretary. Entered politics in 2002. Contact

Dippoldiswalde-Kerstin-Koerner-300.jpg

SACHSEN (Saxony)

Dippoldiswalde

Population: 14,100

Mayor: Kerstin Körner

In office since: 2019

Party / Politics: CDU (centre-right)

Notes: Born in 1971. Studied civic administration.

Contact

Niesky-Kathrin-Ulemann-300.jpg

Niesky

Population: 9,200

Mayor: Kathrin Ulemann

In office since: 2022

Party / Politics: Independent (centre-right)

Notes: Born 1977. Studied bio-chemistry. Worked for German overseas aid organisation in Kyrgistan and Tajikistan. Contact

Zwickau-Constance-Arndt-300.jpg

Zwickau

Population: 87,000

Mayor: Constance Arndt

In office since: 2020

Party / Politics: Citizens for Zwickau (centre)

Notes: Born July 1977. Apprenticeship in retail management. Worked for a number of food and fashion retailers. From 2014 to 2020 member of the city council. Entered politics in 2013. Contact

Bernburg-Silvia-Ristow-300.jpg

SACHSEN-ANHALT

(Saxony-Anhalt)

Bernburg

Population: 32,000

Mayor: Silvia Ristow

In office since: 2022

Party / Politics: Die Linke (left-wing)

Notes: Born 1963. Studied agricultural management and finance. Entered politics in former East Germany. Became a member of the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany). Since 2007 member of the district council. Contact

Magdeburg-Simone-Borris-300.jpg

Magdeburg

Population: 237,000

Mayor: Simone Borris

In office since: 2022

Party / Politics: Independent (centrist-green)

Notes: Born December 1962. Apprenticeship in banking followed by studies in economics. Started work for the City of Magdeburg in 1990. Contact

Norderstedt-Elke -Christiana -Roeder-300.jpg

SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN

Norderstedt

Population: 81,000

Mayor: Elke Christiana Roeder

In office since: 2018

Party / Politics: SPD (centre-left)

Notes: Born November 1966. Studied banking law. Worked as merger and acquisition (M&A) manager in London. Mayor of Bad Pyrmont from 2006 to 2014. Entered politics in 2006. Contact

Eisenach-Katja-Wolf-300.jpg

THÜRINGEN (Thuringia)

Eisenach

Population: 42,000

Mayor: Katja Wolf

In office since: 2012

Party / Politics: Die Linke (left-wing)

Notes: Born March 1976. Studied social pedagogy. Member of the state parliament of Thuringia between 1999 and 2012. Entered politics in 1999. Contact

* Methodology
The research was carried out by German Brief during April, May and June of 2023. Sources include Wikipedia, newspaper articles, information provided by cities and political parties as well as personal contributions by individual mayors.

 

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ON OTHER PAGES: There was no Angela-Merkel effect | Women board members |

 

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