The first session of the newly elected Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, convened today in a ceremony marked by tradition and the anticipation of a new political era. The session, held in the Sejm’s iconic chamber, was a blend of ceremonial pomp and substantive political action. Senior Marshal Marek Sawicki from the Polish People’s Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe) opened the proceedings, setting a tone of responsibility and vision for the future. President Andrzej Duda delivered a significant speech at the first session of the X term of the Sejm, emphasizing the achievements of the past eight years and outlining his vision for Poland’s future. Deputies also elected their Speaker (Marshal of the Sejm) and vice marshalls, not without surprises.
The first session of the Sejm, marking the beginning of a new parliamentary term in Poland, unfolded with significant developments and political maneuvering. The session was characterized by key decisions, including the election of the marshal of the Sejm, vice-marshals and the setting of the legislative agenda.
The session began with the customary opening ceremony, a blend of solemnity and celebration, reflecting the gravity and excitement of a new parliamentary term. Members of the Sejm, representing various regions and political spectrums of Poland, gathered in the Sejm’s assembly hall, each keen to make their mark in the coming years.
During the day, the current Prime Minister tendered his resignation to the new Marshal of the Sejm. All of the members of the Sejm were also sworn in to their office.
President Andrzej Duda’s Address at the Inaugural Session of the X Term Sejm
President Duda began his address by highlighting the high voter turnout in the recent parliamentary elections, over 74%, describing it as a “great success of democracy.” He thanked all voters for their participation, emphasizing that democracy in Poland is now stronger than ever. The President’s remarks underscored the importance of resolving disputes through democratic processes, particularly at the ballot box.
Duda stressed the importance of mutual respect among parliamentarians, advocating for representation from every political group, even the smallest, in the Sejm’s presidium. He expressed disappointment that this practice is often overlooked by the ruling parties. The President also extended a special acknowledgment to the 117 deputies serving their first term, reminding them of the significance of their oath and the responsibilities it entails.
The President declared his readiness to cooperate with the newly elected parliament on key issues for Poland. He emphasized the importance of defense programs, advocating for continued investment in the military, with spending at least 4% of GDP. Duda also highlighted the upcoming Polish presidency in the European Union as a significant event, focusing on strengthening EU relations, expanding the community eastward and southward, and pursuing a fair and wise energy transformation.
Concluding his speech, President Duda extended a hand shake to all members of the Sejm, via their leaders on the front benches, symbolizing a gesture of unity and cooperation. He reiterated the importance of Poland’s national interests, urging all deputies to work together for the country’s welfare.
Marek Sawicki’s Inaugural Address
In his opening speech, Marek Sawicki emphasized the realization of the vision of parliamentary democracy as a collective task and duty of the deputies. He referred to the words of Maciej Rataj, a notable figure in Polish parliamentary history, highlighting the essence of Poland as a parliamentary democracy. Sawicki’s speech focused on the importance of renewing cooperation between countries for the benefit of the global community, especially in the current geopolitical climate.
The main job of Sawicki, was to oversee the process of election of the actual Marshal of the Sejm. Sawicki, was chosen by the president to be the Senior Marshal – an MP with significant parliamentary experience, whose main responsibility is to chair the first session, until a new speaker of the Sejm is elected by the chamber.
Szymon Hołownia Elected as the New Marshal of the Sejm
One of the session’s key events was the election of the Marshal of the Sejm, a position of significant authority and responsibility in Polish politics.
Szymon Hołownia, co-founder of the Third Way (Trzecia Droga), has been elected as the new Marshal of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament. His candidacy, supported by a coalition of parties including the Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska), Polish People’s Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe), Poland 2050 (Polska2050), The Left (Lewica), and Confederation (Konfederacja), received a majority of votes.
Hołownia was elected with 265 votes, surpassing Elżbieta Witek from the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość), who received 193 votes. In his first address as Marshal, Hołownia emphasized a shift in priorities, stating that the focus in the Sejm would move from “party” to “patria” (homeland). He announced significant changes, including the removal of “the Sejm’s freezer” (a colloquial term for when the legislative drafts are not being put to vote by the speaker) and police barriers, symbolizing a more open and accessible parliament.
Hołownia’s election marks a notable change in the political landscape of Poland. His commitment to transforming the Sejm into a more transparent and respectful institution resonates with his vision of a parliament that is not an asylum for criminals, a field for corruption, or a platform for contempt. He expressed his desire for the Sejm to be a place where parents can proudly show their children how democracy works, even in disagreement.
Background of Szymon Hołownia
Szymon Hołownia is the leader of the political movement Poland 2050 and was a presidential candidate in 2020. He founded his party and association, Poland 2050, in the same year and later formed a coalition with the Polish People’s Party, known as the Third Way. In the 2023 parliamentary elections, Hołownia led the candidate list for the Third Way in the Podlaskie constituency, securing a mandate as a deputy in the X term of the Sejm.
This election of Szymon Hołownia as the Marshal of the Sejm signifies a new chapter in Polish politics, with expectations of a more inclusive, transparent, and respectful parliamentary culture. His leadership is anticipated to bring a fresh approach to the functioning of the Sejm and its role in Polish democracy.
Sejm Elects New Vice-Marshals in a Landmark Session
The X term of the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, has also elected a whole new presidium, led by the recently elected Marshal Szymon Hołownia. In a significant move, the Sejm decided to appoint six vice-marshals, but notably, Elżbieta Witek’s (PiS) candidacy was rejected.
The Sejm elected six vice-marshals, reflecting a diverse political representation. The elected vice-marshals are:
- Krzysztof Bosak from Confederation (Konfederacja) with 272 votes.
- Włodzimierz Czarzasty from The New Left (Nowa Lewica) with 250 votes.
- Dorota Niedziela from Civic Coalition (KO) with 257 votes.
- Monika Wielichowska from Civic Coalition (KO) with 252 votes.
- Piotr Zgorzelski from the Third Way (Trzecia Droga) with 267 votes.
The decision to have six vice-marshals was overwhelmingly supported by 458 deputies, with no opposition or abstentions.
Elżbieta Witek’s candidacy for the vice-marshal position was notably rejected. Marshal Szymon Hołownia announced that the selection of a representative from the Law and Justice Party (PiS) to the Sejm’s presidium would be conducted at a later time. This decision marks a significant shift in the Sejm’s political dynamics.
PiS, the largest party in the Sejm, is now without its vice-marshal. It’s unclear whether the party will suggest another candidate to represent it in the Presedium of the Sejm.
Elżbieta Witek, who was the Marshal of the Sejm until the recent election, has no confidence of the new majority in the Sejm due to the alleged authoritarian style of running the chamber while she was in charge of the preceedings.
Before the voting, various political leaders made statements about the candidates. Jarosław Kaczyński, presenting Elżbieta Witek’s candidacy, spoke about the challenges she faced as the former Marshal of the Sejm. Other politicians highlighted the qualifications and experiences of their respective candidates, emphasizing their suitability for the vice-marshal roles.