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Talking Germany

Talking Germany - Boris Palmer, Mayor of Tübingen

In 2006, Boris Palmer became one of Germany's few Green party mayors. The 41-year old heads the city of Tübingen's coalition government. On Talking Germany he talks about his vision to reconcile environmental and economic concerns and why he believes Facebook is a useful tool for politicians.

Watch video 30:10

Boris Palmer was born in 1972 in Waiblingen. He and his brother grew up in the Rems Valley in the Swabia region in southwestern Germany. At the tender age of ten he was already helping his father, a fruit farmer, attract customers to the family stall at Tübingen's market. His father became known as the "Rems Valley rebel," protesting against bureaucracy and the abuse of power by officials. As an independent candidate, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor 250 times in various towns. By his own admission, what Boris Palmer learned from his father was the "Palmer principle": an undogmatic, unorthodox view of politics, free of tactical considerations and opportunism.

He attended a Waldorf school and graduated with flying colors. After doing his alternative service, he studied mathematics and history at the University of Tübingen. There, too, he was active as a student representative, achieving the introduction of night buses and a semester ticket.

In 2001 he won a seat in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, where he first made a name for himself as transportation spokesman, and later, as environmental spokesman for the Green Party.

One of his first acts as freshly-elected mayor of Tübingen was to exchange the official car, a Mercedes, for a hybrid Japanese model. In the state where Mercedes is manufactured, that brought him both hefty criticism and accolades. From then on, he promoted envrionmentally friendly urban restructuring. The aim of his activities was to show that even at a local level and with limited funds, people can do something to fight climate change.

A passionate bicyclist, he gained attention beyond the region when he campaigned against the conversion of Stuttgart's main railway station. Boris Palmer has a one daughter from his relationship with his former partner, political scientist and economist Franziska Brandtner.