On Sunday 8 October, voters in Luxembourg went to the polls to elect 60 representatives to the Chamber of Deputies in the nation’s latest general election. The last election took place in 2018, resulting in a three-way coalition led by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and the Democratic Party. This time, the conservative Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) seem poised to lead coalition negotiations as the largest party. It is the third election in which CSV topped the polls. In the two previous elections, CSV were excluded from government by a left-wing coalition. This time, however, a fall in support for the Greens makes it likely CSV will successfully lead coalition talks to form the next government.
This Just the Facts will look at the parliamentary system in Luxembourg, the main issues during the election campaigns and the results of the general election.
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s Parliamentary System
Luxembourg’s name is derived from Lucilinburhuc (“Little Fortress”), the name of the strategically important ancient fortress along the Alzette River, today known as Luxembourg Castle. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, as part of the re-arrangement of Europe and following the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1801 – 1815), it was elevated to Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, but became part of the newly formed German Federation, with King William I (1772 – 1843) of the Netherlands as its head of state.
The 1839 Treaty of London resulted in the Third Partition of Luxembourg, losing more than half of its territory to the new state of Belgium, giving Luxembourg its modern-day borders. The second Treaty of London in 1867 ended the Luxembourg Crisis, guaranteeing its independence and neutrality. Luxembourg remained a possession of the kings of the Netherlands until the death of William III (1817 – 1890), when it passed to the House of Nassau-Weilburg.
Today, Luxembourg is a democratic unicameral democracy. The monarchial head of state is the head of the House of Nassau-Weilburg, while the head of government is the Prime Minister, who is elected to the Chamber of Deputies (D’Chamber). The Chamber consists of 60 deputies, who serve five-year terms and are elected by proportional representation in four multi-seat constituencies.
Luxembourg is a founding Member State of the European Union, which started as the European Economic Community in January 1957. It is one of the four institutional seats of the EU (together with Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg) and the seat of several EU institutions, notably the Court of Justice of the EU.
Since October 2000, the head of the Luxembourgish royal family has been King Henri (born 1955). His father Jean (1921 – 2019) abdicated the position, having been king since November 1964. His family house, Nassau-Weilburg, was founded in 1344 under John I (1309 – 1371), a branch of the European House of Nassau that was founded in 1093.
2023 Election Campaign Issues
With a population of just 660,000, Luxembourg is one of the wealthiest countries within the EU, and enjoys economic indicators which are better than the European average – growth, employment, minimum wage etc. However, experts point to rising inequalities, particularly in relation to access to housing, as a key campaign issue for this election. The average cost of a house is €1.5 million, while rent increased 6.7% between June 2022 and June 2023. In their campaigns, the two major political parties hoping to lead the next government – Democratic Party and Christian Social People’s Party – made pledges to take action.
Like neighbours in Belgium and the Netherlands, citizens of Luxembourg have concerns over perceived degradation of the capital city and an increase in crime, vandalism and drug-use. These social issues became a key theme for parties throughout the election campaign. On the one-hand, conservative parties prioritized a law-and-order approach and referenced the left-wing government coalition comprising of three different ideologies as part of the issue. On the other hand, liberal parties suggest a more ‘holistic’ approach, combining social reforms with security measures.
Results of the 2023 General Election – Luxembourg
CSV, emerged as the largest party, securing 21 of 60 seats. However, failing to reach the 31 seats needed for a majority, a coalition will now be necessary for form a new government, and replace the outgoing coalition of Democratic Party, Luxembourg Socialist Worker’s Party, and the Greens. CSV leader, Luc Frieden, greeted activists on Sunday night with a clear message: ‘We have received a clear mandate to lead the next government.’
Despite winning the largest number of seats in 2013 and 2018, CSV failed to negotiate a coalition, resulting in the three-party coalition of Liberals, Socialists and Greens, led by Xavier Bettel (DP) taking office. This time however, centre-right CSV are better positioned to lead negotiations due to a decline in support for the Greens and the resulting loss of a majority for the outgoing coalition. CSV party leader, Luc Frieden, began coalition talks Wednesday 11 October with outgoing Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s liberal Democratic Party. If they were to combine, these two parties would form a strong 35-seat majority.
|Party||Est.||Oct. 2018||Oct. 2023||Seat Change||European Parliament Group||Irish Parties in that Group|
|Christian Social People’s Party||1944||21||21||0||European People’s Party||Fine Gael|
|Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party||1945||10||11||1||Socialists and Democrats||Labour Party, Social Democrats|
|Democratic Party||1955||12||14||2||Renew Europe||Fianna Fáil|
|The Greens||1983||9||4||-5||Greens/European Free Alliance||Green Party|
|Alternative Democratic Reform Party||1987||4||5||1||European Conservatives and Reformists||–|
|Pirate Party Luxembourg||2009||2||3||1||None (Libertarian)||–|
|The Left||1999||2||2||0||The Left in the European Parliament||Sinn Féin|
|60 seats – Chamber of Deputies||60||60|
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