Inaugural sitting of Senate elects new speaker

Tomasz Grodzki, whose candidature was forwarded by opposition senators, received 51 votes and was elected to the post. Tomasz Gzell/PAP

President Andrzej Duda inaugurated the first sitting of the Senate's 10th term of office on Tuesday afternoon, expressing satisfaction with the political diversity in the upper house of Poland's parliament.

After the president's address, debates were run by senior Speaker Barbara Borys-Damięcka of the Civic Coalition (KO). Addressing the gathering, Borys-Damięcka said that "today the Senate has a huge opportunity to make change and work in a better, more honest and citizen-oriented way."

"The Senate is often described as a chamber of reflection," she said, adding that it should not be a body, which only approves what has been sent to it from the lower house of parliament.

An oath-taking ceremony of all senators was followed by the election of a new upper house speaker.

Tomasz Grodzki, whose candidature was forwarded by opposition senators, received 51 votes and was elected to the post. Stanisław Karczewski, a candidate of the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) and the Senate speaker of the previous upper house term, won 48 votes. There was one abstention.

Referring to his election, Grodzki said it was a victory of democracy. He also stressed that the Senate had "to return to its role and make good laws instead of simply making them quickly."

"We can hold disputes but, at the same time, we have to remember that we represent (...) the majesty of the Republic of Poland and the power of this nation, which we must guard and protect," he underlined.

In the October 13 elections to the Polish parliament, the ruling party PiS lost its majority in the 100-seat Senate, winning 48 seats. The Civic Coalition, led by the Civic Platform (PO), secured 43 mandates, PSL and the Left, took three and two seats, respectively. The four remaining seats went to independent candidates.