President Duda: Dispute within limits marked out by responsibility

Disputes are a natural thing but they must be held within limits set by a sense of responsibility for our community, President Andrzej Duda on Friday told a National Assembly sitting called in connection with this year's Polish independence centenary.

In his address to the sitting, which also marked the 550th anniversary of the Polish parliament, Duda stressed that political debate was a natural and inevitable phenomenon but had to be conducted within boundaries set by a sense of responsibility for the country.

"Disputes are a natural and inevitable thing. The Sejm and Senate are sites for debates, but disputes must be held within the limits defined by the sense of responsibility for our entire community," the president said. He added that by "responsibility for the community" he meant that the present government's moves should be respected as it was elected by the people and could not be denied the right to implement its political programme.

"The verdict announced by citizens at polling stations should not be questioned. Its acceptance is proof of mutual trust, confidence and respect as it is the nation, which is the sovereign of the Republic of Poland," Duda said.

Duda recalled that the site of the National Assembly sitting, the Royal Castle in Warsaw, was where Poland's major parliamentary acts were passed over the ages. As examples he mentioned the 1573 Warsaw Confederation which guaranteed religious freedom and equal rights, and the Polish Constitution of May 3 1791, known as the May 3 Constitution, passed as the world's second modern-day constitutional act after the American Constitution and introduced shortly before the second partitioning of Poland by Russia and Prussia.

Duda stressed that the best proof of the Poles' attachment to the parliamentary system was that today, also in discussions about free Poland, its political structure and the need to renew the constitutional foundation of the Polish republic, "there is no doubt that our state is and will remain a republic, and the bicameral parliament will remain an organ of legislative power".

In this context, Duda observed that Polish parliamentarianism was not a gift nor imposed from outside, but was attained solely through the efforts of the Polish people.

"We Poles did not receive our parliamentarianism as a gift, nor was it superimposed on us by anyone. It is our own achievement, the fruit of our decisions and our toil," Duda declared.

Duda stressed that MPs and Senators were obliged to listen to the voice of the people to be able to represent them effectively, and had to have "an overview of the entirety of state affairs." He also emphasised that parliamentarians "could not be supporters of particularistic interest groups" nor succumb to outside influence.

Stanisław Tyszka from Kukiz'15, the only opposition group to hear Duda's address after the Polish People's Party (PSL) and Nowoczesna Party parliamentarians left the room, said his group's aim was to restore "true" parliamentarianism to Poland.

Parliamentarians from Poland's main opposing party Civic Platform (PO) failed to show up at the sitting.

The National Assembly sitting in the Royal Castle courtyard was preceded by a holy mass celebrated by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, head of the Polish Episcopal Conference. In his homily, Gądecki appealed for unity and recalled that Poland's parliamentary history marked not only the restoration of the country's independence, but also its loss.

July 13 marks the 550th anniversary of a 1468 parliamentary sitting considered to be the first in Polish history. The sitting preceded the first sitting of a Polish two-chamber parliament in October of the same year.