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Women Mayors from Europe

>Gdańsk mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz resoundingly re-elected

> Elke Kahr, Mayor of Graz, awarded the 2023 World Mayor Prize
> Malta examines ways to bolster women in local government

Gdansk Mayor Dulkiewicz

More than 62 per cent of voters in Gdansk re-elected the incumbent mayor Dulkiewicz

POLAND

Gdańsk mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz resoundingly re-elected to second term

April 2024: Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Mayor of the Baltic City of Gdańsk, was resoundingly re-elected in Polish local elections held on 7 April 2024. With more than 62 per cent of voters supporting her, she will not have to face a run-off election. Her nearest rival, Tomasz Rakowski, received just over 12 per cent of votes cast. All other mayoral candidates in Gdańsk failed to gain double-digit support.

 

After the first exit polls were announced, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz told enthusiastic supporters the results showed that her administration had passed the test of good local government. “During the campaign, we often heard we lack emotion. But I dream of Gdańsk as a normal, ordinary city without fireworks. I don't need fireworks. I prefer a city where everyone lives well and I believe that during my first term, we were able to work towards such a city. The results seem to show that the people of Gdańsk agree.”

 

Aleksandra Dulkiewicz has been mayor of Gdańsk since 2019. She is a member of the association Wszystko dla Gdańska (Everything for Gdańsk), which was founded by her assassinated predecessor Paweł Adamowicz. In the elections, she ran with the support of the centrist Civic Coalition (PO) party OF Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

 

A clearly disappointed runner-up, Tomasz Rakowski, from the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) congratulated the re-elected mayor and admitted that his party had probably reached a glass ceiling in liberal Gdańsk.

 

While in most Polish towns and cities, none of the leading candidates received the absolute majority of 50 per cent plus necessary to win outright – and thus will have to compete in the run-off election on 21 April - several women won in the first round.

 

Voters in Swinoujscie elected Joanna Agatowska as their mayor. The new mayor, a member of the New Left party, won almost 54 per cent of votes cast. In Piekary Slaskie, Sława Umińska-Kajdan won a second term, while in Kolobrzeg the incumbent mayor Anna Mieczkowska was also re-elected to a second term. Provisional results show that she was able to substantially increase her support compared to five years ago.

 

In Wroclaw, Poland’s fourth-largest city, Izabela Bodnar, a member of the centre-right Third Way party, came a close second to the incumbent mayor Jacka Sutryka. She received 31.7 per cent of the votes cast, with Mayor Sutryka on 33.4 per cent.

 

Across Poland, according to initial results, the national rightwing opposition party PiS has emerged from the local elections in Poland as the strongest force with 33.7 of the vote. The liberal-centrist Civic Coalition, led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, came second with 31.9 per cent. It achieved a major success in the capital Warsaw. The incumbent mayor Rafal Trzaskowski was confirmed in office in the first round of voting with almost 60 per cent of the vote. "Here is the hero of today," Prime Minister Tusk said of Trzaskowski on election night. The 52-year-old Trzaskowski was only narrowly defeated by incumbent Andrzej Duda in the 2020 presidential election. He has ambitions to run again in next year's presidential election.

 

Further reading: Polish women mayors prior to April 2024 elections

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MALTA

Malta examines ways to bolster women in local government

January 2024: Ahead of local elections, scheduled for June this year, The Maltese government is examining measures to increase the number of women in local government. Although a government spokesperson could not provide any details, it is thought that the Labour administration is considering a ‘gender corrective mechanism’ similar to the one that applies to general elections.

 

The ‘gender corrective mechanism’, used in the 2022 general election for the first time, occurs when a gender has less than 40 per cent representation, equal to 26 members of parliament. The mechanism can apply to both male and female candidates, but in reality, the intention is to increase the number of women in parliament since Malta has one of the lowest rates of female elected politicians in Europe.

 

The 2022 general election saw 12 women – six from the centre-left Labour Party and six from the centre-right Nationalist Party – elected into Parliament through the new gender corrective mechanism. The Maltese Labour Party said in its 2022 general election manifesto that, “the principle of strengthening equal participation between the sexes should also be extended on a local basis with a mechanism which is adequate for local councils.”

 

An analysis of the 2019 local council election results by The Malta Independent on Sunday newspaper shows that female representation at the local council level is low, with only one of every four local councillors across the country being a woman. Indeed, out of the 459 councillors elected across 67 local councils in Malta and Gozo, only 119 are women – equivalent to 26 per cent.

 

There is little to differentiate between the two main political parties either on this topic: the Labour Party had 400 local council candidates, out of whom 98 were women – a proportion of 24.5 per cent; while the Nationalist Party had 293 local council candidates, out of whom 86 were women – a slightly better proportion of 29.3 per cent. In the 2019 local elections, only ten Maltese communities elected women mayors, Now, after the female mayors of Mosta, Cospicua and Floriana were elected to parliament in 2022, the number of women mayors in Malta has dropped to seven.

 

Malta has now eight local councils made up entirely of men and only two with women councillors in the majority.

 

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SPAIN

Pamplona’s female mayor ousted in confidence vote

January 2024: In an extraordinary session of the Pamplona city council, Mayor Cristina Ibarrola was dismissed from her post and replaced by Joseba Asiron, who had previously served as mayor from 2015 to 2019. The outgoing mayor, who has only been in office since 17 June 2023, described the censure motion as a farce and accused the socialist members of the council of betrayal. “In June, the PSN-PSOE (socialists) voted for me and six months later they support the candidate of the EH Bildu, a party they fought against in the municipal elections”, Ibarrola told journalists.

 

The left-wing EH Bildu group on the city council and socialist and independent councillors backed the censure motion against Christina Ibarrola. The now ex-mayor was supported by the UPN, a regional conservative party and the PP, Spain’s national conservative party.

 

In the June 2023 municipal elections, the UPN won the largest number of councillors but not enough to form a majority. Cristina Ibarrola was elected mayor with the backing of the PP and the centre-left socialist councillors. During the campaign, the PSN-PSOE said they would never support an administration led by their bitter left-wing rivals, the EH Bildu. But six months later, the socialist group blamed the chaos created by Ibarrola for its change of heart. Marina Curiel, a socialist councillor, described the municipal policy developed by Ibarrola as "arrogant".

 

Mikel Armendáriz, a member of Geroa Bai, a Basque nationalist party, also defended the censure motion. “We voted in favour of a change of mayor because of the erratic decisions under former mayor Ibarrola. Even the city budget for 2024 has not been finalised yet.”

 

The deposed mayor reiterated that her successor’s party (EH Bildu) is only interested in separating the Navarra province from Spain. “Some in the party even cheer ETA prisoners.” (ETA was an armed Basque nationalist and far-left separatist organisation in the Basque Country between 1959 and 2018.)

 

Cristina Ibarrola was Pamplona’s second female mayor. The first woman mayor of the city was Yolanda Barcina Angulo, from 1999 to 2011

 

Joseba Asirón Sáez, an art historian and member of EH Bildu, previously served as Mayor of Pamplona from 2015 to 2019. BACK TO TOP

 

Further reading: Spain’s women mayors

On other pages

News pages: North American women mayors | South American women mayors | European women mayors | Asian women mayors |

 

Mayors' Code of Ethics | American Women Mayors | Canadian Women Mayors | Mexican Women Mayors | French Women Mayors | British Women Mayors | Polish Women Mayors | Dutch Women Mayors | Spanish Women Mayors | German women mayors | Obituary: Leila Mustapha, Mayor of Raqqa, who died aged 35 |

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