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Berlin

Berlin mayor Wowereit survives airport confidence vote

Social Democrat Klaus Wowereit has survived a vote of no-confidence in Berlin's parliament, initiated by the Green Party after the latest chapter in the city's ill-fated airport development project.

A majority of politicians in Berlin still support Mayor Klaus Wowereit, despite the numerous delays in building Berlin-Brandenburg International airport.

A majority of 85 local lawmakers rejected the no-confidence motion, supported by the Green, Left and Pirate parties, on Saturday morning, while 62 politicians expressed a lack of confidence in the city's top politician. Wowereit has been mayor of Berlin since June 2001.

Wowereit on Monday stepped down as chairman of the supervisory board for the German capital's new airport, after it became known that the new hub's opening date was to be delayed for a fourth time. Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport was initially scheduled to open in October 2011, it's now set to open at some point in 2014 and construction is expected to run around 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) over its initial budget of 2.8 billion euros.

The 59-year-old mayor said after the vote that it was important to focus on solving the problems with the building project.

The ruling coalition in Berlin, made up of Wowereit's Social Democrats and Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, holds 85 of 149 seats, meaning the mayor was expected to survive the motion. The ruling paries had expressed their continuing support of Wowereit earlier in the week.

Politicians in Berlin had already debated the motion on Thursday when it was filed, accounting for the early morning vote on Saturday. The city-state's constitution stipulates, however, that there must be at least a 48-hour interim between filing a no-confdence motion and the subsequent parliamentary vote.

msh/sej (AFP, dapd, dpa)