Countdown to Warsaw mayor recall referendum
October 9, 2013
A special clock counting the time that’s been left till referendum on whether or not to dismiss Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz was placed Tuesday on a building in the center of Warsaw on the initiative of the main opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party members.
A group of city councilors want Gronkiewicz-Waltz dismissed in a referendum in the fall. The key driving force behind the ongoing referendum campaign to oust the mayor of Warsaw is Piotr Guział, the mayor of Warsaw’s southern Ursynów district. He argues that the Polish capital is poorly managed, as exemplified by a recent scandal over the cancellation of a tender for garbage collection in the city. As a result, Warsaw is now several months behind schedule in its efforts to meet European Union recommendations on waste management.
Parties that have supported the referendum campaign include PiS and the liberal Palikot's Movement (which recently changed the name to Twoj Ruch). Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is from the centrist governing Civic Platform (PO) party.
As many as 166,726 valid signatures were gathered in favor of the referendum being held, surpassing the requirement of 130,000 signatures.
PM Donald Tusk has strongly supported mayor Gronkiewicz-Waltz and has urged Warsaw citizens not to take part in the referendum. In order for the vote to be valid, at least 389,480 Warsaw citizens must turn out for the ballot on October 13.
Gronkiewicz-Waltz took over as mayor in December 2006. She then secured reelection in 2010 after winning nearly 54 percent of the vote in the first round. But a poll commissioned by the aldermen shows that half of Warsaw’s residents now disapprove of Gronkiewicz-Waltz and would vote against her in a referendum.
Her ouster after six years as mayor could deal a painful blow to the PO and prove politically disastrous for the ruling coalition.