The decision of Marshal Szymon Hołownia to impose a time limit on Minister Zbigniew Ziobro’s speech did not appeal to Law and Justice politicians who demanded respect for the Rules of Procedure of the Sejm. These are not the minister’s first problems – during the PiS government, when the meeting was chaired by Marshal Elżbieta Witek and Ryszard Terlecki, Ziobro was not allowed to speak at all. At that time, United Right politicians believed that there was “nothing extraordinary” in such a situation.
On Tuesday, the Sejm continued its first session of the new term, during which choice four new members of the National Council of the Judiciary from the Sejm. The choice of politicians was preceded by a heated discussion.
At some point, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General appeared near the podium Zbigniew Ziobro, demanding a vote. Marshal of the Sejm Szymon Hołownia in accordance with art. 186 section 2 of the Rules of Procedure of the Sejm, which guarantees. among others ministers the right to speak from the Sejm podium “outside the order of speakers registered to speak, whenever they request it”, granted him the floor, stipulating that his speech should last three minutes.
The Marshal of the Sejm gives the floor to members of the Council of Ministers, the President of the Supreme Audit Office, the Head of the Chancellery of the President and the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President replacing the Head of the Chancellery of the President at a given meeting, outside the order of speakers registered to speak, whenever they request it.
– I warn you, after night there is day. The time will come when you will also find yourself in the opposition benches, and then you will be held accountable for violating the constitution, but also for possible criminal offenses related to it, Ziobro warned.
At one point, the Speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, did not allow Zbigniew Ziobro to finish his statement – indicating that the time for his statement had expired. Then PiS politicians started shouting: “Regulations!”
– The Rules of Procedure of the Sejm were literally applied in this case – argued Hołownia, giving Ziobro another half a minute to speak. Nevertheless, the acting minister Przemysław Czarnek He accused the marshal of “abusing the regulations.”
Ziobro not allowed to speak
In the Sejm of the previous term, when the session was chaired by the Marshal Elżbieta Witek and Ryszard Terlecki (both from PiS), Minister Zbigniew Ziobro could not always count on the opportunity to speak from the parliamentary rostrum.
For example, in May 2021, at an extraordinary session of the Sejm, during the debate on the draft law on the ratification of the decision that would enable the launch of the EU Reconstruction Fund, Minister Zbigniew Ziobro demanded to be allowed to vote.
The then marshal, Elżbieta Witek, assured him that “he would be allowed” to speak – but ultimately this did not happen.
Wójcik: not allowing Ziobro to speak is nothing extraordinary
Zbigniew Ziobro then wondered whether “blocking the constitutional minister’s speech in such a debate is not more eloquent than his 15-minute speech.”
When asked about this event, Minister Michał Wójcik from Sovereign Poland said that “the Marshal decided that ultimately we would not take part in the debate and that she would take the floor from him.”
– I also talked to the Marshal, as well as to Mr. Marshal Terlecki, and I want to say that I don’t see anything extraordinary in it. It happens many times during parliamentary debates, I experienced it myself even as a constitutional minister, that I was not allowed because the marshals decide the order in the debate hall, so they decide who can speak and who cannot, emphasized Michał Wójcik.
– I wouldn’t see any big problem here. Maybe it’s too exposed in the media at the moment, he added.
An attempt to speak out and Nitras’ intervention
Another moment when Minister Zbigniew Ziobro was not allowed to speak was when the Sejm was considering a motion of no confidence in the president of PiS, Jarosław Kaczyński in December 2020.
After the club’s speeches, the deputy speaker of the Sejm and head of the PiS club, Ryszard Terlecki, announced a 10-minute break. At that moment, Sławomir Nitras, an MP from the Civic Coalition, appeared at the podium. – Mr. Marshal, I am submitting a formal motion. We all saw that Mr. Ziobro came forward, he said. – Sit down, clown – Terlecki replied to the envoy.
Sławomir Nitras later described this event in more detail on social media. “First, Ziobro approached Terlecki, asked to speak in Kaczyński’s defense. Then Terlecki called Mrs. Gosiewska and gave it to her. She passed it on to Kaczyński. Kaczyński called Sobolewski and told him to go to Ziobro and tell him that he would not speak,” he wrote.
Main photo source: Tomasz Gzell/PAP/EPA