Polish opposition takes control of Senate as Duda swears in lawmakers

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The 9th term of the Polish Sejm and the 10th term of the Senate have just begun, with President Andrzej Duda inaugurating both houses of Parliament with speeches.

During the session, the new MPs were sworn into office and the previous government was dismissed.

Andrzej Duda emphasized the need for unity and peace in the nation, saying, “We only have one Poland and I ask you all to remember that always. I would like you to shake hands now as a way of starting this new term.”

Duda explained that the handshake was meant to be an “ordinary” one, just as the MPs were ordinary men and women meeting to debate very important affairs over Poland’s future in a civilized manner. The president himself also shook the hands of the all the MPs from all political parties in the front row.

Following the speech, the new speakers of the Sejm and Senate were chosen. The only candidate for Speaker of the Sejm was PiS’ Elżbieta Witek, voted in with a 314 majority out of 460 representatives.

Despite controlling the Sejm, the PiS has officially lost the Senate. During the first deliberations, Law and Justice’s (PiS) candidate for Speaker of the Senate and incumbent Stanisław Karczewski was voted out in favor of Civic Platform’s (PO) Tomasz Grodzki who had the support of 51 out of 100 senators.

Karczewski had the support of 48 and one abstained.

“This is a victory of democracy,” Grodzki declared after the voting result and underlined the importance of the Senate as a representative of the Polish republic.

He added that the Senate is the upper chamber of parliament and will not “simply be a break for the Sejm.”

“The Senate must return to fulfilling its role. Instead of making quick legislation, it will make good legislation,” the new speaker said.

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