In Poland, the mayors of larger cities (Voivodship seats) are called presidents, and perhaps with good reason, as for all practical purposes, their position allows them greater powers than the regional governor. His or her powers and duties include directing the everyday activities of the city as well as serving as its representative abroad. They prepare all draft resolutions for their city and supervise their implementation, direct the management of municipal property, the implementation of the budget, as well as the hiring and firing of the managers of municipal agencies.
Significantly, one of the duties specifically assigned to a city’s mayor is the preparation of an operational plan for flood protection, an issue that’s already been brought up as a point of criticism both against Krakow’s sitting mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, and the sitting voivod of Małopolska and candidate for mayor, Stanisław Kracik, after May’s flood disaster.
The mayors are chosen every four years by a direct vote during the municipal elections, the latest of which will take place this Sunday. For those voting, we’ve prepared a brief guide to the three leading candidates for the position of mayor of Krakow.
Jacek Majchrowski (SLD)
Professor Jacek Majchrowski, 63, is the current mayor of Krakow, and has been since he was first elected to the position in 2002. After graduating from the Jagiellonian University in 1970, he earned a doctorate at the Faculty of Law and Administration and taught as a professor of law and later served as the dean of the same faculty. Before serving as mayor, Majchrowski was the voivod of Krakow in 1996-97, and joined his current party, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in 1999. In 2002 and again in 2006 he was elected mayor of Krakow, and his tenure has been popularly known “the tourism and sports program”, due to his focus on improvements to the Balice Airport as well as the construction or upgrades of stadiums and sports facilities throughout the city. In addition, under his mayorship vast cosmetic and structural improvements were made to the Market Square and the buildings surrounding it as well as the Planty, and a fast tram line was built, as well as an underground parking garage on Na Groblach Square.
Majchrowski’s election slogan is “A Proven President”, and the current mayor is clearly running on his past record and experience. His program consists of nine points: the involvement of citizens in the planning of investments, friendly and secure public transportation, aesthetic public spaces, education as the foundation of the city’s competitiveness, health and social services at the highest level, a safe city, strategic investments based in the districts, the intelligent implementation of technology, and for the city to become a centre of culture and sport. Along with the other candidates, his promises to improve the city’s dire traffic problems, including building new tram lines and more parking garages. One specific plan is to introduce municipal customer service centres in the city’s shopping malls.
Stanisław Kracik (PO)
Stanisław Kracik, 60, has served as the voivod (governor) of the Małoposka Voivodeship (Lesser Poland Province, of which Krakow is the seat of) since 2009. Born in a village in Małopolska, he graduated from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow and served as mayor of Niepołomice (also in Małopolska) from 1990 to 2009, when he was appointed to his current position.
According to his website, Kracik’s first priority for Krakow is to solve the city’s traffic problems, first by investing in public transport, and by redirecting current routes to relieve congestion. His other proposals include a development of the general Krakow Metropolitan Area with new housing and economic zones as well as infrastructure investments, a shift of power to the city’s individual districts, a push for jobs for recent graduates to keep them in Krakow, and finally, to distinguish Krakow as a city for science and culture. His plan includes attracting more investors to Krakow from abroad, and supporting research into cutting-edge technologies, to establish Krakow as the “Silicon Valley” not just of Poland, but of the entire CEE region.
For more information on this candidate, please read our interview with Stanisław Kracik.
Andrzej Duda (PiS)
Andrzej Duda, 38, is the only Krakow-born candidate, and a graduate of the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In 2005 he began to work as an advisor to the Law and Justice (PiS) party’s Parliamentary Club, and in 2006 he was appointed to the post of undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Justice. From 2008 until this year’s presidential elections he served as undersecretary of state in President Lech Kaczyński’s cabinet.
Duda’s program for the city focuses on lowering its spending and increasing the efficiency with which its resources are used. He points out that at the moment, the city’s deficit is over two billion złoty, or 54% of its annual budget, and budgetary regulation is a top priority. He supports the continued sale of public housing and improvement of existing properties to increase their value. He promises to direct more resources towards the repairs and improvements of municipal buildings, including schools, kindergartens, and hospitals, so that the buildings are not the most more neglected in the neighbourhoods. He plans to solve Krakow’s traffic problem through a more intelligent design of roads and public transportation that takes into account the overall urban landscape.
All six candidates for mayor, including Stanisław Gniadek (Komitetu Sprawiedliwy Krakow), Stanisław Żółtek (KWW), and Piotr Boroń (Prawica Razem), took part in a televised debate yesterday evening, the result of which showed that “These two [Majchrowski and Kracik] know how to govern Krakow. After that, nothing”, at least according to Gazeta Wyborcza. At the moment, the two men are the front-runners, with the latest polls by TOK FM showing Majchrowski in the lead with 39 percent, and Kracik closing in with 30 percent. The polls also show 17 percent for Duda, with the remaining candidates polling between zero and three percent. Of course, nothing will be decided until this Sunday, when Cracovian head to the polls to name their new president.