13/06/2004 - Analysis
On 13th June next, exactly five years to the day, the Luxemburgers are being called to vote to elect the 60 members in their Chamber of Representatives. The same day they will also vote to elect the six representatives in the European Parliament. Jean-Claude Juncker, (Social Christian Party, PCS/CVS) who has been the head of the government of the Grand Duchy since 20th January 1995 might maintain his parliamentary majority.
The Luxembourg political system
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy and a representative democracy. Grand Duke Henri is at present Head of State. Parliament comprises a single chamber, the Chamber of Representatives, with 60 MP's elected for a five year period by a proportional list system according to the principle of the smallest electoral quota. The Grand Duchy is divided into four constituencies during the general elections: the South (Esch-sur-Azette and Capellen) that elects 23 representatives, the Centre (Luxembourg and Mersch) 21 MP's, the North (Diekirch, Redange, Wiltz, Clervaux and Vianden) 9 MP's and East (Grevenmacher, Remich and Echternach) 7 representatives. Candidates for the Chamber of Representatives must be at least 21 years old.
During the election each voter has as many votes as he has MP's to elect in his constituency; each of the votes distributed between the candidates of the same list or several different lists are worth one vote. The voter may attribute a vote to each of the candidates on the same list. A person may also vote for candidates from two or several different lists or even "vote double" ie vote twice (maximum) for one of the candidates on a list. The voter is free to mix the ways he votes, for example by using the double vote for several candidates from several different lists.
Finally we should remember that it is obligatory to vote in Luxembourg. Unjustified abstention is punished by a fine. If it happens again the voter may be struck off the electoral roll or even be prohibited from any form of appointment, promotion or distinction. Old people are allowed to vote by post after the age of 75.
At present five political parties are represented in the Chamber of Representatives - these are:
From Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's Social Christian Party (PCS/CVS);
From the Socialist Workers' Party (POSL/LSAP), the main social-democrat opposition party ;
From the Democratic Party (PD/DP), liberal party that belongs to the government coalition with the Social Christian Party;
Action for Democracy and Justice in terms of Pensions (ADR), created in 1987 in the form of an action committee for pensions, fighting for the end of differences in terms of the retirement system in the private and public sectors. The ADR fights for direct democracy with the desire to establish a referendum for each major public decision - it also says that it is the "Luxembourg people's voice against State dysfunction and social injustice";
Dei Greng- The Greens (G), an ecologist party.
All draft laws are put to a double vote in the Luxembourg Parliament. Article 59 of the Constitution makes its obligatory for MP's to vote twice on a draft law except if the Chamber of Representatives and the State Council decide otherwise. A lapse of at least three months must lie between the two votes.
The election stakes
On 26th March last Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker rejected requests made by several EU leaders for him to become the next President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker said that he wanted to remain at the head of his country's government. "It is the Luxembourg electorate's desire for me to remain Prime Minister of Luxembourg", he declared. Jean-Claude Juncker and his party, the Social Christian Party leads the latest opinion polls for the general elections on 13th June. We should remember that Luxembourg law prohibits polls during the month preceding the general election, with the most recent opinion polls dating back to the beginning of May.
Full employment is an absolute priority for the PCS/CVS in these general elections. The party is also committed to the abolition of tax on fortunes and the establishment of a 10% immediate reduction on capital revenue if they win. "Slowly but surely the country is coming out of the crisis. We are winning", maintained Jean-Claude Juncker, pointing to growth that should settle at around 2.5% in 2004 and 3% next year. The Prime Minister also stresses that if unemployment has grown during his mandate the number of positions available has also increased. In addition to this he says that he favours a reduction in working hours if it is accompanied by the employment of the unemployed.
The Democratic Party, the PCS/CVS partner within the government promotes sustainable development and says that it is also in favour of encouraging enterprise spirit. It also plans for a simplification in administrative procedures whenever a company is founded as well as in communication between the various administrations.
Employment is also at the centre of the Socialist Workers' Party's (POSL/LSAP) electoral campaign. "A 70% increase in five years shows that Luxembourg needs economic renewal", declared Jean Asselborn, president and chief of the party's list recently. The Social Democrats also want to promote the principle of life long education and advises the merger of two ministries, the Economy and Middle Classes Ministries.
Dei Greng-Green campaign is mainly focussed on the environment. The ecologists would like to improve and make trans-border co-operation a reality; it also wants to work towards bringing Luxembourg back up to speed in terms of the information society. If the Greens win they plan to create a marketing agency for "the company of Luxembourg", and to introduce a single branch of education that would continue beyond the sixth year of study and introduce the system of man/woman parity in the electoral system.
As usual Action for Democracy and Justice in terms of Pensions (ADR) is demanding greater equity in the retirement system between the public and private sectors. The party is also basing its campaign on the protection of national identity within the EU and says that it is in favour of a status for women (and men) who stay at home.
Finally Dei Lenk-The Left (DL) has based its campaign on the slogan borrowed from the anti-globalisation movement, "Another world is possible", and denounces economic globalisation and the government's liberal policy.
We should also point out that in these general elections the Communist Party (PCL/KPL) is putting candidates forward in two constituencies (South and Centre) and the Free Party of Luxembourg (FPL) is doing so in one constituency only, North.
The Conservative parties seem to have made a good start in maintaining the majority in the Chamber of Representatives but the lack of any form of opinion poll makes it difficult to see how the Luxemburgers' intentions to vote have been developing over the last few weeks.
Reminder of the results of the general elections on 13th June 1999
Participation rate: 86.5% (it is obligatory to vote in Luxembourg)
Source: IT Centre of the State of Luxembourg