This paper presents a variational model based segmentation approach for polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) images. The formulation for PolSAR image segmentation is based on a scaled Wishart distribution based continuous Potts model, which can partition the image domain into distinct regions with respect to the statistical property of PolSAR data. To make the segmentation efficient, a duality based optimization approach is utilized to minimize the energy functional. Moreover, an automatic initialization approach which takes the unsupervised H--a classification result of the polarimetric data as input is used to initialize the segmentation process. This approach can estimate the appropriate number of clusters and the corresponding classification map for the PolSAR data, which are used as the input of the following variational segmentation approach. In such a way, the proposed approach is carried out in a fully unsupervised way. Both of the polarimetric decomposition features and the statistical characteristics are used to get the final segmentation result, which helps to increase the accuracy. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach. Without any artificial supervision, the proposed approach can produce superior segmentation results than results obtained with random initialized variational approach and Wishart--H--a classification approach.