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UPDATE: Polish MPs elect new Speaker after row over gov’t planes

09.08.2019 16:57
Poland’s conservative interior minister was on Friday elected the new Speaker of parliament after her predecessor quit amid claims he misused government planes.
Elżbieta Witek, the new Speaker of parliament
Elżbieta Witek, the new Speaker of parliament PAP/Piotr Nowak

In a vote just two months before Poland holds a general election, Elżbieta Witek from the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) was backed by 245 deputies for the post of lower house Speaker.

A total of 419 MPs took part in the vote, which was preceded by a stormy debate. Ruling party and opposition deputies took the floor to accuse each other of low moral standards.

Witek’s predecessor, Marek Kuchciński, handed in his resignation earlier in the day, following a wave of criticism over trips he took with his family using official planes.

Kuchciński has said his decision to quit was prompted by “social expectations”. But he insisted he had not broken the law.

Opposition politicians have accused him of using government planes as luxury air taxis. They also demanded details of flights by other top figures in Poland’s ruling party.

Law and Justice has repeatedly condemned the corruption, shady dealings and reckless use of public funds which it says tainted the previous centre-right Civic Platform-led government headed by Donald Tusk, who is now president of the European Council.

Defending his use of official planes, Kuchciński told reporters on Thursday that he had needed to attend a large number of meetings.

Earlier this week he said that over the last four years he had been accompanied by relatives on 23 trips aboard such planes.