A newly elected deputy speaker of Poland’s parliament says that one of her main priorities is to ensure that MPs are allowed to bring dogs onto the premises.
Dorota Niedziela – a deputy leader of Civic Platform (PO), which is the largest party in the opposition coalition likely to form Poland’s new government – was among five new deputy speakers of the Sejm, the more powerful lower house of parliament, chosen on Monday at its first meeting after last month’s elections.
She was asked by news website OKO.press what are the most urgent changes that should be made now that the opposition has a parliamentary majority. The first, she said, should be removing the security barriers placed outside the building under the previous administration. That was indeed done on Monday.
“The second thing is to be able to enter the grounds of the Sejm with a dog,” Niedziela continued. She noted that she travels to Warsaw by train from her constituency of Oświęcim in southern Poland with her dog, who is called Laki. “He only weighs 4.5 kgs, so it’s not difficult.”
🐕🦮🐕🦺🐩Międzynarodowy dzień psa mój Laki świętuje ❤️🍖🦴 🐶i walczy razem ze mną by ludzie którzy uważają ze psy nie czuje bólu i że można ….. (nawet nie mogę tego napisać ) nigdy nie doszli do władzy #Konfederacja #Psiożercy pic.twitter.com/VPDfWM1wiK
— Dorota Niedziela (@DorotaNiedziela) August 26, 2023
However, once she arrives in the capital, the Marshal’s Guard – which is responsible for security in the Sejm – does not allow her to enter parliament – or even parliamentary vehicles – with her pet.
“The Marshal’s Guard claims that the regulations do not allow a dog on the parliamentary premises,” she told OKO.press. “I couldn’t even use the parliamentary car; I had to use a taxi every time.”
She argues that dogs should certainly be allowed in the parliamentary gardens, and said that she would hold talks with the Sejm leadership – made up of the new speaker, Szymon Hołownia, and his deputies – about also letting them into the building itself.
“MPs have pets and sometimes they have to bring them because they have nowhere to leave them,” Niedziela added today in an interview with newspaper Fakt. She also claimed that some MPs secretly sneak their pets into the building inside bags.
Poland’s permanent representation to the EU is the only Polish embassy in the world to allow staff to bring their pets to the office.
Ambassador Andrzej Sadoś, who introduced the policy, says the animals are good for morale and help reduce stress https://t.co/BpqLPawj4F
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 25, 2023
Veteran MP Marek Sawicki, who has served in the Sejm for 30 years, told Fakt that in the past some MPs have been allowed to bring their dogs into the building – most famously Ludwik Dorn when he was speaker of the Sejm in 2007.
Dorn’s dog, a black schnauzer called Saba, became a minor celebrity but also the subject of scandal, with the Wprost weekly reporting that she had destroyed furniture at a government residence when Dorn was interior minister. The damage allegedly cost taxpayers over 3,000 zloty to repair.
Niedziela adopted Laki three years ago. He often appears on her social media channels, including in one campaign video in which the politician called on voters to support her party if they wanted a government that would protect animal rights.
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Main image credit: European Parliament/Flickr (under CC BY 2.0)
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.