Parliament confirms gambling investigative committee

Poland’s Lower House of the Parliament approved today the make-up of the investigative commission into the so-called Gambling Affair scandal.

The committee was convened to cross examine key individuals on a scandal which rocked the government last month, with accusations that ministers lobbied on behalf of the gambling industry. Several resignations from the cabinet followed.

Though having no legal power, parliamentary investigative commissions are seen as significant forums in Poland, where politicians are interrogated by their peers. Reputations and can be won and lost in committees which are given blanket coverage on 24 hour news stations.

The gambling investigative committee can call on the former head of the anti-corruption agency, Mariucz Kaminski who made the original allegations against ministers from the Civic Platform-led government, including former sports minister Miroslaw Dzewiecki, former head of Civic Platform’s parliamentary party, Bogdan Chlebowski and even Prime Minister Donald Tusk himself.

Committee composition

The political composition of the commissions reflects representation in parliament. The seven politicians who were confirmed to take their places on the investigative committee today are Miroslaw Sekula, Slawomir Neumann and Jaroslaw Urbaniak of the ruling Civic Platform (PO), Beata Kempa and Zbigniew Wassermann of the opposition Law and Justice Party (PiS); Bartosz Arłukowicz is the candidate of the Left while Franciszek Stefaniuk represents the junior coalition member the Polish Peasant Party (PSL).

The first post-1989 parliamentary investigative commission was set up in 2003 to look into the so-called Rywingate scandal and lasted over one year.

Several of the members of the commission made their political names in the long sessions.

Zbigniew Ziobro was a prominent member for the Law and Justice party, who went on to become a minister of justice. And renata Beger, previously a little known member of Andrzej Lepper’s Self Defence party, went on, for several years, to be permanent face on TV and in the newspapers and magazines. (pg)