Is there a correlation between political strength and physical size? In any case, the campaign of the Bremen SPD fully relied on this thesis and advertised the 1.99-meter-long mayor Andreas Bovenschulte with the slogan "Politics needs format". To emphasize the incumbent's stature, Bovenschulte's skull even protruded from the top of some of the rectangular billboards on the streets.

Reinhard Bingener

Political correspondent for Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen, based in Hanover.

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The Social Democrats have focused the election campaign on their top candidate because Bovenschulte enjoys great approval. During the pandemic, the mayor has earned a reputation among citizens through professional action and straightforward communication. In addition, Bovenschulte's political principles fit in with the mentality of the two-city state and the Bremen state SPD: The 57-year-old, who holds a doctorate in law, is counting on far-reaching state activity and is also accepting further indebtedness in Bremen. Bovenschulte, who belongs to the left wing of the party, represents this approach with staying power and presents his arguments for this course with caution.

Keeping the Greens down

However, the son of a Social Democratic family also has the ability to escalate and did not shy away from attacks on his Green coalition partner during the election campaign. The mayor obviously wants to keep the Greens small and not allow a situation like after the 2019 election, when the Greens played the role of kingmaker. Bovenschulte's claim is that in red Bremen, the SPD will go on a bridal show and no one else.

The question is whether Bovenschulte will reorient himself to the Greens and the Left Party, which is certainly closer to him personally, or to the CDU, with which he has already worked prosperously. As mayor of the neighbouring Lower Saxony municipality of Weyhe, Bovenschulte relied on the CDU/CSU. After its election defeat in 2019, Bremen's SPD then brought its former state chairman back to the Hanseatic city to replace the hapless Carsten Sieling. Bovenschulte's position in his party is now so unchallenged that he can set the direction in the upcoming exploratory talks.

During the election campaign, Bovenschulte also presented himself as an approachable politician. "Bovi" unpacked his guitar from time to time and also let the citizens participate in his private life. Via "Bunte", Bovenschulte announced last week that he had met his first childhood sweetheart again after 35 years. Two years after separating from the former Bremen State Councillor Ulrike Hiller, with whom he has two daughters, the mayor is about to marry again.