Speaker announces resignation on Friday

2019-08-08, 13:47 update: 2019-08-10, 13:06
Marek Kuchciński. Photo PAP/Marcin Obara
Marek Kuchciński. Photo PAP/Marcin Obara
Poland's Sejm (lower house) Speaker Marek Kuchcinski said on Thursday he intends to resign from his position on Friday, though he denied he had broken the law in relation to controversial government flights with family members and others.

Kuchcinski told a press conference he intended to resign from the position of Speaker, entrusted to him since November 12, 2015, adding that the controversially high number of flights he took as speaker was determined by the large number of meetings with residents, often of small towns, that he had held during his term in office. He said he had undertaken a model of the speaker's function that worked not only in the Sejm in Warsaw but also around the country and abroad. 

"However, because the public negatively assess my behaviour, I have decided I will not be able to further fulfill that function," he said. 

Referring to Kuchcinski's decision, ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said it was proof of an attitude connected with the party's slogan: listen to Poles, serve Poland. Kaczynski also said Kuchcinski had not broken the law or acted outside of normal practice. He added that he stood by his position of 2011 concerning flights taken by then Prime Minister Donald Tusk. He said at the time that the prime minister had a right to a home life and that government flights were part of his prime ministerial rights. 

Kaczynski went on to say that in the near future a draft law would be submitted to parliament which would "rigorously" regulate flights on the government fleet. He said coordinated action was needed by the offices of the prime minister, president, Sejm and Senate. 

"We will regulate this matter because the regulations to date concerning who can fly under what circumstances simply haven't existed. There have been several people in the state who had the right to use planes and as a matter of fact that's what happened," Kaczynski said. 

Private radio broadcaster Radio Zet originally reported in July it had acquired documents confirming that on six occasions, in the first half of this year, Kuchcinski's family members, including his sons, daughter and wife, flew with him on a government jet.

On Thursday, Kuchcinski himself said that, since taking up office four years ago, he had taken his family along on 23 flights. He said on one of the flights his wife was even travelling alone.

The speaker said he had donated PLN 15,000 (EUR 3,479) to charity and a further PLN 28,000 (EUR 6,486) to the Armed Forces Modernisation Fund for the flight his wife took. Polish media subsequently listed further flights the speaker had taken with MPs, local councillors and others. (PAP)

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