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The photograph has been taken during the re-elected president’s inaugural address given in front of the National Assembly. It was uploaded online by the Chancellery of the Sejm- the lower chamber of Polish parliament. “Thank you for this picture. It will go down in history” – an MP from the Left party, Katarzyna Kotula, addressed the Chancellery in a post on Twitter.  

While the picture can no longer be found on the Sejm’s profile, it is still online and is being widely shared on social media. We asked the Sejm Information Office about the disappearance of the photograph, but we still haven’t received an answer.

MPs from the Left party appeared at Andrzej Duda’s swearing-in ceremony wearing rainbow coloured facemasks. They also brought a rainbow flag. Commenting on the political gesture, one of the MPs, Katarzyna Kretkowska, said that it was a “sign of solidarity with the activists recently arrested for hanging rainbow flags on the mermaid statue. It was also a sign of solidarity with all those who are repressed, disdained, and treated as >second-rate< citizens”. The last sentence is a reference to a comment made by Jarosław Kaczyński back in 2015, when spoke about “second-rate Poles”.

„We’d like to remind Andrzej Duda that the struggle for human rights does not offend anyone, and that the President should protect the well-being of all citizens” – another MP, Magdalena Biejat, pointed out.

The president was sworn-in by the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Elżbieta Witek, who chaired the National Assembly together with the Senate speaker Tomasz Grodzki.  While the representatives of the ruling camp have welcomed the president’s oath of office with a standing applause and were cheering his name, the opposition MPs were sitting in silence. Klaudia Jachira, an MP from the Civic Coalition, held up a banner saying “Perjurer”.

Law and Justice enraged by the rainbow

The colourful dresses and pride-coloured facemasks met with negative reactions from the representatives of the ruling camp. “Today, facing a choice between being solemn and clowning around, the Left chose the latter. By doing so, it put itself on a steady course out of the Parliament in 2023. Fine with me, the Sejm will be much prettier without the Left!”- Tomasz Rymkowski, a Law and Justice MP, wrote in a post on Twitter.

„Post-communist shenanigans in front of the National Assembly. Even on a day like this, a day of great significance to Poland and Poles, they have to provoke us with symbols of gender ideology and LGBT. Besides, these symbols contradict our Constitution, the very document... which the post-communist Left MPs are now holding in their hands” – Janusz Kowalski, the Deputy Minister of State Assets, commented.

Half-empty seats

The list of attendees included members of the diplomatic corps and other distinguished guests, such the president’s wife and daughter. They were joined by the former Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, the former speaker of the Sejm, Marek Jurek, but also generals and religious leaders. The head of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jarosław Kaczyński, made it on time, too.  

Some of the seats reserved for the opposition, however, were left empty. Instead of attending the ceremony in person, the Civic Coalition decided to send a delegation headed by the speaker of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki, and the deputy speaker, Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska.

As announced, former presidents Lech Wałęsa and Bronisław Komorowski decided to boycott the inauguration. Another former president, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, did show up, saying that he did so “out of respect for the Polish state, for the presidential office, and for all the voters”. He joined the senators and MPs from the Left party already in the morning before the ceremony.

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