As pro-EU parties prepare to take power in Poland, a new star has shot to fame: a parliament speaker whose wit has drawn thousands of new followers to the chamber’s social media channels.
Polish Marshal of the Sejm Szymon Holownia is no stranger to a wide audience as a former TV personality who notably hosted the Polish edition of the Got Talent! franchise.
The 47-year-old left show business for politics four years ago, and now enjoys the spotlight chairing plenary proceedings following his success in the Oct. 15 parliamentary elections.
“Ladies and gentlemen, stock up on popcorn ... because I suspect there will be a lot of action,” Holownia said of the upcoming sitting during one of his now almost daily news conferences.
His quips and comebacks in the plenary have been going viral — including an instance when he corrected a conservative lawmaker for mistakenly calling a colleague a “Jay-Z” instead of a member of Generation Z.
On another occasion, as lawmakers heckled him, Holownia retorted saying they were becoming “a tad monothematic.”
“I encourage you to be more original, to do more intellectual work. Insulting takes skill, too,” he said, drawing applause from the pro-EU lawmakers.
In the matter of weeks that Holownia has spent as speaker, the parliament’s YouTube channel streaming the debates saw its followers surge almost tenfold, from 45,000 to 435,000 subscribers.
The sudden rise in popularity of the parliamentary proceedings prompted an unorthodox move by a Warsaw cinema to organize a screening of today’s confidence vote for the conservative minority government.
“We’ve never done this before,” Kinoteka spokeswoman Karolina Fornal said, adding that the cinema had already run out of free tickets for the screenings.
“We allotted two rooms for the viewings, that means over 500 seats ... and we’ve received around 1,500 requests,” Fornal said, adding that the cinema would add parliamentary-themed snacks to its offer that day.
Holownia has been quick to capitalize on his own fame too: He has launched a behind-the-scenes podcast on the ins and outs of parliamentary life — with the first episode hitting nearly 1 million downloads.
For experts, Holownia’s fame as a celebrity-turned-politician follows a familiar pattern.
“It’s a bit like [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskiy and how he made a name for himself. Holownia also stood out because he had the experience, he knew how media work,” said Adam Szynol, a media analyst from the University of Wroclaw. “He knows that he has to speak briefly, that he needs a punchline or a joke from time to time.”
Yet Holownia’s flashy style has also drawn criticism — notably from current conservative Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
“Instead of real work we have the popcorn, a show and circuses. Is this what politics is about?” Morawiecki wrote on social media.
Szynol said that there was a risk that young people are watching parliament sittings “just for fun, to see who landed a heavier blow or came up with a meme.”
However, he said an increased interest among a generation that often switches off from politics should not be dismissed.
“The young people who went out and voted, currently want to see how their voice is acted upon — and that will be the key part,” Szynol said.
Vaccines that protect against severe illness, death and lingering long COVID-19 symptoms from a SARS-CoV-2 infection were linked to small increases in neurological, blood and heart-related conditions in the largest global vaccine safety study to date. The rare events — identified early in the pandemic — included a higher risk of heart-related inflammation from mRNA shots made by Pfizer Inc, BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, and an increased risk of a type of blood clot in the brain after immunization with viral-vector vaccines such as the one developed by the University of Oxford and made by AstraZeneca PLC. The viral-vector jabs were
A steam of sweat rose as hundreds of naked men tussled over a bag of wooden talismans, performing a dramatic end to a thousand-year-old ritual in Japan that took place for the last time. Their passionate chants of “jasso, joyasa” (“evil, be gone”) echoed through a ceder forest in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, where the secluded Kokuseki Temple is ending the popular annual rite. Organizing the event, which draws hundreds of participants and thousands of tourists every year, has become a heavy burden for the aging local faithful, who find it hard to keep up with the rigors of the ritual. The Sominsai festival,
Women on Thursday officially joined a so-called “naked festival” at a shrine in central Japan for the first time in the event’s 1,250-year history, donning purple robes and chanting excitedly as they bore a large bamboo trunk as an offering. Seven groups of women took part in the ritual which is said to drive away evil spirits and where participants pray for happiness. Despite its name, those taking part are not naked. Many women wore “Happi Coats” (robes that reach to the hips) and shorts that are typically worn at Japanese festivals, although men just wore loincloths similar to those worn by
‘PUTIN IS RESPONSIBLE’: Authorities detained more than 100 people in Russia, as mourners remembered the opposition leader outside embassies around the world Floral tributes to Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest foe who died on Friday in a Russian penal colony, were removed overnight by groups of unidentified people while police watched, videos on Russian social media show. More than 100 people were detained in eight cities across Russia after they came to lay flowers in memory of Navalny, said OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression in Russia. Yesterday, police blocked access to a memorial in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and detained several people there as well as in another Siberian city, Surgut, OVD-Info said. Video footage shared on social media