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Berlin's Social Democrats have overwhelmingly backed Michael Müller to succeed Klaus Wowereit as the German capital's next mayor. Müller still has to be nominated at a party convention and elected by the city parliament.
In a decisive show of support, 59.1 percent of the Berlin Social Democratic Party's (SPD) members backed Michael Müller on Saturday, building political momentum for the city development minister to become the German capital's next mayor.
Müller's competitors trailed behind in the membership vote. Berlin SPD chief Jan Stöss won 20.8 percent of the vote, while SPD parliamentary group leader Raed Saleh came in third with 18.6 percent of the ballot. Turnout was 64 percent of the Berlin SPD's 17,200 members.
"I'm incredibly happy that there was such a huge show of confidence," Müller said. "I hope that we as the SPD can use this vote by the members and remain in the lead."
Müller must next secure the SPD nomination at its party convention on November 8 and then win the backing of Berlin's parliament on December 11. He will need the support of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), the junior partner in a coalition with the SPD.
Last August, Klaus Wowereit announced that he would resign as city mayor on December 11, after leading the German capital for 13 years. Wowereit, a Social Democrat, is Berlin's first openly gay mayor.
He has faced criticism over his handling of the construction of the new Berlin-Brandenburg (BER) airport. The massive five-billion-euro infrastructure project was supposed to be finished in 2012, but has faced repeated delays.
slk/nm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)