Six Polish opposition MPs punished for clash with parliamentary guards

The Sejm, the lower house of Poland’s parliament, has punished a group of MPs from the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party for a recent clash with security officers who protect the building.

The group, who have had their parliamentary allowances halted for three months, attempted to help two party colleagues who lost their parliamentary seats after receiving criminal convictions to return to the chamber.

While seven PiS MPs were originally punished, one was quickly exonerated due to having been wrongly identified as an offender. The speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, apologised for the mistake.

Opposition MPs have clashed with security staff at parliament as the two PiS politicians pardoned last month by President Duda try to return to work despite the parliamentary authorities saying they lost their mandates as a result of their convictions

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 7, 2024

Two weeks ago, two PiS politicians, Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik, tried to enter the Sejm. However, the parliamentary guard did not let them in as they were not entitled to be in the building.

That was because Hołownia had recognised their mandates as MPs to have expired after the pair were convicted for abuse of power in December. But both men and PiS believe that the pair remain MPs because PiS-aligned President Andrzej Duda pardoned them before their final convictions were issued.

„Is Poland heading for a constitutional crisis?” asks @AleksSzczerbiak.

Its bitter political and systemic conflict has been exacerbated by the fact that the two sides appear to increasingly operate within different legal orders

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 6, 2024

A scuffle ensued when parliamentary security, known as the Marshal’s Guard, refused to let the men in.

“The Marshal’s Guard identified seven PiS MPs who were clearly – and this is confirmed by the video footage – roughing up the guards, pushing them, in some cases choking them,” said Hołownia earlier this week, naming the MPs in question as Edward Siarka, Jan Dziedziczak, Antoni Macierewicz, Jacek Bogucki, Małgorzata Gosiewska, Jerzy Polaczek and Katarzyna Sójka.

The presidium of the Sejm, which, in addition to the speaker of the Sejm, includes five deputy speakers, granted Hołownia’s request to apply the maximum penalty of freezing the parliamentary allowance for work expenses of 4,008 zloty (€926) before taxes a month for three months.

MPs in Poland also receive a salary of 12,827 zloty (€2,972) per month.

The president has increased the pay of senior politicians, including a 60% rise for MPs, 75% for speakers of parliament, and 40% for ministers.

The opposition have criticised the decision and pledged to seek to block it

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) August 3, 2021

Today, Hołownia told journalists that there had been a mistake and one of the fined MPs, Sójka, had not been involved in the clashes.

“The guards who analysed the recordings incorrectly identified the person who was on them. After re-checking who was in the [Assembly] Room, what time they entered, what things they posted on social media, it turned out that they had taken [another MP] Ms Agnieszka Górska for Ms Katarzyna Sójka,” he said, as quoted by broadcaster TVN.

Sójka called on Holownia during the parliamentary meeting to apologise and “very extensively” correct this “lying slander”. PiS MPs present in the Sejm chanted “apologise”.

Marszałek @szymon_holownia przeprasza posłankę PiS @aK_Sojka. #sejm

— (@TygodnikWPROST) February 21, 2024

“I have pledged to make a public apology and I hereby apologise,” Holownia said. “I want you to be aware that if our officers make mistakes, it must not reflect on the image of people who should be beyond suspicion in this situation.”

He added that the presidium of the Sejm had passed a resolution to withdraw the financial penalty imposed on Sójka and the punishment of Górska will be discussed at its next meeting.

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja


Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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