The three largest opposition groupings: The Civic Coalition (KO), the Left and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) have agreed to field Senator Tomasz Grodzki for Speaker of the Senate.
Senator Tomasz Grodzki from the Civic Coalition (KO) is the candidate of all the opposition parties represented in the Senate. The agreement on this was announced in Parliament on Friday by the three leaders: Grzegorz Schetyna (KO), Władysław Kosiniak Kamysz (PSL) and Włodzimierz Czarzasty (Left). The election of Speaker will take place at the first sitting of the Senate on 12 November.
Both the law and Justice (PIS) and the opposition parties have 48 seats each in the 100 member Senate. The balance of power is therefore held by four independent Senators. One of those is likely to side with PiS, but the other three are opposed to PiS and likely to vote for the Opposition’s candidate for Speaker.
The sitting Senate Speaker, Stanisław Karczewski, is the PiS candidate for speaker in the new term. Unless he can persuade two additional independents or opposition senators to back him, he is likely to lose to Senator Grodzki. The ruling party has been engaged in trying to persuade opposition senators to back Mr Karczewski. The fact that the three opposition parties have now united around a single candidate means that this attempt has proved unsuccessful and the opposition will have a narrow majority in the Senate.
The Senate in Poland acts as a second chamber. It can amend legislation but not veto it. The Lower House is able to reject any Senate amendment by an absolute majority.
However, the loss of the Senate for the ruling party means that not only will it face amendments to legislation it does not welcome, but the Senate can delay legislation up to the maximum 30 days it has to consider any proposal from the Lower House.
Senator Tomasz Grodzki is a surgeon from Szczecin. He was the shadow health spokesperson for the KO in the last parliamentary term. He claims that PiS have approached him to switch parties and tempted him with the post of Health minister. The ruling party denies that it has made any such approach to Senator Grodzki.