A group of local politicians failed in a bid to recall Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, after referendum turnout, Sunday, was around two percent short of making the vote valid.
The TNS Polska pollster is reporting a turnout of 27.2 percent, with 389,000 voters, or 29.1 percent, needed to recall Gronkiewicz-Waltz, a former governor of the National Bank of Poland, under the complicated referendum rules.
The ballot was called after a group of local opposition politicians successfully collected enough voter signatures over the summer, demanding a vote to recall Gronkiewicz-Waltz, in power in City Hall since 2006.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk, leader of the mayor’s Civic Platform party, had urged his supporters to stay at home, making vote invalid.
In the event, only the mayor’s opponents turned out to vote, with TNS suggesting 93 percent answered ‘yes’ to the question on the ballot paper: “Do you think Hanna Beata Gronkiewicz-Waltz should be recalled as mayor of Warsaw before the end of her term?”.
If a majority had answered yes in sufficient numbers to satisfy the turnout rules, then fresh elections would have had to be called.
If the exit poll is correct, her opponents fell short by just two percent in the turnout rate, and the mayor will now see out her second four-year term, which ends next year.
Leader of the campaign to recall the mayor, the left wing Piotr Guzial, who leads the Ursynow district council, said after the exit poll results were published just after 9 pm that his group and voters, “showed that we have rights and we are able to use them,” adding that in recommending voters to stay at home, Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s “Civic Platform machine used everything at its disposal, including the prime minister and president […] to trample on democracy”.
Of six districts selected by the TNS pollster, the highest turnout was in the City Centre, at 35.6 percent, and lowest in Ursynow, the district Piotr Guzial leads, where just 19.4 percent voted.
The vote was seen as a key test of the ruling centre-right Civic Platform’s government nationally, with Tusk’s party behind the main opposition, Law and Justice, in opinion polls.
Civic Platform member, foreign minister Radolsaw Sikorski tweeted: “I congratulate Mayor Gronkiewicz-Waltz. Poles once again supported modernization and rejected demagoguery.”
During the campaign leading up to Sunday’s vote, Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s supporters pointed to the opening of the Copernicus Science Centre and Museum of Polish Jews under her watch and initiatives such as the launch of the ‘Veurilo’ cycle hire scheme as part of her achievements while in office.
Her critics charged her with incompetence, a large hike in the cost of public transport, cuts in education and the creation of 1,000 new local officials and a bloated administration as reasons for re-calling the mayor.
The exit poll found that 56.3 percent of those who voted in the referendum on Sunday voted for the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party in the 2011 general election, while 14.4 percent had voted for Civic Platform.