Krzysztof Jurgiel
Wide awake in this picture from January 2016, agriculture minister Kryzsztof Jurgiel (left) was filmed asleep after buckling under the strain of the timetable set by the Poland's leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski (right).Reuters

Politicians are often known for burning the candle at both ends and the late nights finally caught up with Poland's agriculture minister. Kryzsztof Jurgiel has been making waves on social media not because of his policies but because he was filmed fast asleep in the Sejm, Poland's parliament, ahead of a late-night vote.

A vote on the country's budget was delayed while fellow MPs went looking for him at 02.00 on Saturday (6 February) and a smartphone captured him catching 40 winks in an armchair near the chamber.

While being caught like this might be career threatening, he has received some sympathy in Poland whose parliament now endures endless late nights thanks to the schedule set by the ruling Law and Justice Party, which won so convincingly at the last elections. It is the first party to govern alone since the fall of communism.

Before this particular vote, debate had been delayed for several hours so that party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is not an MP, could attend a man of the year ceremony hosted by a newspaper.

Since it was elected three months ago, the party has pushed a punishing timetable where laws go from the committee stage to enactment very quickly. Jacek Kucharczyk, president of the Institute of Public Affairs told the Guardian that this timetable is being used to stifle debate.

Among recent laws passed include one that enhances the police's surveillance powers; another moved the attorney general's office into the justice ministry, which some fear will see the government interfering in prosecutions.

"Human rights groups try to monitor the parliamentary committees but they cannot keep up. The strategy is to keep parliamentary debates off prime-time television and reduce public awareness and exposure to the opposition's input," Kucharczyk told the newspaper.

The sleeping minister was filmed and put up on TwitterTwitter