Jacek Majchrowski. Mayor of Kraków, Poland

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Jacek Majchrowski
Mayor of Kraków

By Andrew Stevens

7 September 2009: Jacek Majchrowski. the mayor of Kraków, Poland’s second city and cultural capital, came to attention of the international press when snubbed during visit by then president George W Bush to his city. A noted legal academic and university administrator, he has won two terms of office as president (mayor) of the Kraków city council following a stint as county president during the 1990s. As he approaches the end of his second term, he draws attention to the city’s significant cultural and tourist growth over the past decade.

How good is Jacek Majchrowski. Mayor of Kraków?

First elected in 2002, Majchrowski is a member of the Democratic Left Alliance, Poland’s main centre-left party affiliated to the Socialist International. The party has, like others in the social democratic bloc, suffered a loss of fortune owing to the ascendancy of the Polish right since the 2005 national elections, though they were able to secure election in a number of cities in 2006. For his own re-election bid that year, Majchrowski ran with the bloc’s support, but as an independent. Majchrowski’s left-wing stance became globally-renown when he was snubbed during a visit to the city by US president George W Bush, on account of his opposition to the Iraq war and his country’s forces involvement in it.

As mayor, Majchrowski points to his experience as head of the Kraków county during the 1990s and his formulation of a special economic zone for the city. Since taking over as city chief in 2002, he claims he has stabilised the city’s development through planning use and expanding tourism through cooperation with budget airlines, which bring much-needed passenger numbers to Poland’s emerging tourism hub, and by safeguarding its historic assets. The city is also now a leading beneficiary of European Union structural funding.

Kraków is an officially-designated metropolitan area, one of 12 in Poland, and its second largest city after the capital Warsaw (though not the largest urban area), a status it continually vies for with rival Lódz. The city was renowned as Poland’s pre-war intellectual hub by policies pursued under Stalinism meant that its intellectual life was transposed by a drive towards greater industrialisation. The resumption of democracy following the downfall of state socialism allowed for its academic and cultural character to flourish once more. Most recently, the mayor’s plan for a Museum of Communism to be built in the city’s Nowa Huta industrial settlement (once home of the Vladimir Lenin Steelworks) have come under criticism owing to overrunning construction works. Majchrowski is himself a professor of law and history (since 1988) at the city’s Jagiellonian University, Poland’s oldest and most distinguished higher education institution. Prof. Majchrowski has been associated with the university since his undergraduate days, serving as dean of department of law and administration between 1987-1993.

The city’s municipal life is governed by the 43-member city council and president, both elected concurrently every four years (since 2002). The three vice presidents are elected from the city council. Reforms to local government enacted in the 1990s following the transition to liberal democracy have seen a demarcation between the executive and the city council’s role, aimed at better coordination of local services and democratic accountability. The city council is primarily responsible for enacting local ordinances, budget management and the appointment of personnel to run the city.

Under further local government reforms in Poland, Kraków was designated the seat of the revived county of Kraków in the province of Lesser Poland, but the city itself does not form part of the county’s jurisdiction. The city is further divided into 18 districts (since 1995), each with their own elected administration.

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