What many had called “the battle for Warsaw” ended anticlimactically when the vote to recall Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz was rendered invalid because of low turnout. In order for the result to be binding, more than 29 percent of eligible voters would have had to go to the polls. In the end, turnout was only 25.6 percent, meaning the election was some 45,500 votes shy of the mark.
Not enough Varsovians voted to recall Ms Gronkiewicz-Waltz from her post
Courtesy of Flickr/PlatformaRP
The result was good news for Ms Gronkiewicz-Waltz and her party, the ruling Civic Platform (PO), of which she is deputy leader.
For months her grouping has been trailing the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party in the polls, with recent losses in a number of local elections where PiS candidates had defeated their PO counterparts. A loss in Warsaw would have been a PR disaster for PO and would have provided more fuel for the party’s opponents.
On a roll?
With a “win” in the Warsaw recall election, Civic Platform hopes that the snowball effect that could have led to a PO loss in parliamentary elections in 2015 has finally hit a brick wall.
Civic Platform’s tactic of encouraging people not to go to the polls, while controversial, seems to have worked. However, some think that it will backfire in the long run.
“The same politicians who told people not to cast their ballots will have to convince them to do the opposite in the next elections. I predict they will have difficulty doing so,” said Wojciech Jabłoński, a political analyst from the University of Warsaw.
He said that Law and Justice supporters will vote without hesitation in the next elections, while Civic Platform proponents are “simply tired of the current situation and don’t think they can change anything.”
After the official results were announced, Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński said that the vote was held under “unconstitutional conditions,” claiming that the prime minister shouldn’t have told people not to vote. He is threatening to file a report on Mr Tusk’s statements to the Council of Europe.
Nevertheless, some say it might be Mr Kaczyński himself who should take a long look in the mirror before he starts blaming others for the unsuccessful campaign to oust Warsaw’s mayor.
“Every statement made by Jarosław Kaczyński caused a two percent drop in turnout,” left-wing politician Ryszard Kalisz claimed. Mr Kalisz was rumored to be considering a run for mayor of Warsaw if Ms Gronkiewicz-Waltz were recalled.
Mr Kalisz also made reference to a campaign poster created by PiS which bore a huge letter W, prompting a comparison with one of the symbols of the Warsaw Uprising (a failed bid to defeat the Nazi German occupiers). The tactic led many veterans to accuse PiS of using the symbol to further divide the country.
The angriest ones win
A question mark now hangs over the fate of Adam Hofman, the PiS spokesperson who orchestrated the party’s advertising campaign. The debacle has put him in hot water and, according to Polish media, he will soon have a “long discussion” with his boss, Mr Kaczyński.
Even the Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik, usually one of Law and Justice’s staunchest supporters, has taken shots at the party’s leaders. The daily accuses Mr Kaczyński of using his “patronizing tone” to scare off potential voters, and blames Mr Hofman for grabbing the spotlight.
Mr Jabłoński said that the failure of the recall to attract enough votes can be blamed on both sides of the political spectrum.
“What started as a civic movement turned into a heated political battle between two parties, who forgot that one city, even as big and important as Warsaw, does not represent the whole country,” he said. “Its problems are completely different than those on the national level.”
Mr Jabłoński added that the next election could be won by the grouping whose supporters are essentially “the angriest.”
From Warsaw Business Journal
Schetyna ousted from Civic Platform leadership
Four MPs join junior coalition partner
New political party established
Tusk lays out direction for government
Civic Platform thinking long-term
Will cabinet reshuffle save PO?
BY Remi Adekoya
What’s next for Jarosław Gowin?
BY Remi Adekoya