|Wanda Nowicka got zł.40,000, but lost her deputy speaker post|
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Opposition party Palikot’s Movement (RP) has announced that it is withdrawing its support for Wanda Nowicka as deputy speaker of Sejm after she accepted a controversial zł.40,000 bonus.
In total, Sejm Speaker Ewa Kopacz and her five deputies received zł.245,000 in bonuses for their work last year. Ms Kopacz, who awarded the bonuses, received zł.45,000, while her deputies got zł.40,000 each.
The bonuses were widely criticized in the media and Janusz Piechociński, the Polish Peoples’ Party leader, even talked about “shameless greed.”
The news sparked outrage because, for months now, politicians have been telling the Poles how serious the current economic crisis is only for some of them to turn around and award themselves significant bonuses.
Punishment and reward
At first, Ms Kopacz defended her decision. “Parliament is a place where laws are made first and foremost but it is also a workplace. I have the right, in fact I am obliged, to judge my workers, reward those who work well and punish those who worked worse,” she said.
But the story refused to go away. Finally, last Thursday, RP withdrew its support for Ms Nowicka, who had accepted the bonus.
“It is a difficult decision. We hold Wanda Nowicka in the highest regard,” said Janusz Palikot, leader of RP. “Nevertheless, because of our fundamental principles, we decided that we have to give a strong signal to Poles that we are not here for money or positions.”
“In this situation, we have to be uncompromising,” he added. Mr Palikot said his party would now deliberate on who to recommend for the vacant post. By now, the other deputy speakers were saying they would hand over their bonuses to charity.
A closed matter
PM Donald Tusk weighed in on the matter. “The decision to award bonuses to parliament’s presidium was unfortunate. If politicians are not able to guarantee people salary raises, they should not be awarding themselves bonuses,” said Mr Tusk.
He added however, that in his opinion, the matter was now “closed” and he was impressed at the swift decision to give the money to charity.
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