It has been less than a week since early elections were announced and we are already in the midst of an election campaign. The vote is in autumn. The coalition discipline has been broken and parties are repositioning themselves. The country is facing one of the most exciting campaigns in its recent history, writes Christoph Bumb in his analysis of electoral politics in Luxembourg for the country’s largest daily, the conservative Luxemburger Wort.
The months-long battle of opinions over the secret service scandal has left its mark. In the end, the CSV and its Prime Minister found themselves isolated in the committee of inquiry. On Wednesday the LSAP left its coalition partners out in the cold by fully siding with the opposition.
So what awaits us in the coming weeks? Although the Prime Minister prevented a confidence vote at the last minute and personally announced new elections, the set-up is clear: the CSV is fighting this election battle very much on its own, alone against all others.
Incidentally, and contrary to reports in the international press and some Luxembourg media, nobody resigned on Wednesday – neither the government as a whole, nor the Prime Minister. By preempting a vote in Parliament and immediately being declared the CSV top candidate, Juncker has again taken the lead, at least for now.
The CSV is convinced that it established the culprits for the current state of affairs on the night of the debate, and then again at its extraordinary party congress on Thursday, and in no uncertain terms: the LSAP stepped out of line and deliberately brought the coalition to and end. As Juncker pointed out, the coalition partner has been “unwilling to govern” for several months.
The election battle has begun. The truce within the coalition is no longer in force. Unusually for Luxembourg, there has been a lot of bad blood between politicians in the last few weeks. But does this mean that the current coalition run its course and cannot be renewed after the elections? Not really.
Jean-Claude Juncker wants to know it once again. He will be his party’s top candidate at the elections this autumn, joining the electoral race in support of the CSV and in defense of his own political heritage. Yet with whom does he actually plan to govern in the event of an election victory?
Even though the LSAP has lost confidence in the Prime Minister, there are still a number of Socialist politicians who get on well with Juncker, first and foremost the Foreign Minister, who will run again in the elections, albeit not as his party’s top candidate. What’s more, the new hope of the LSAP, Economy Minister Etienne Schneider, does want to rule out a new coalition agreement with the CSV.
However, the problem could lie with the party’s grass roots, or at least parts thereof. The Socialist camp is not immune to ever louder demands for “alternative” coalition models. A problem remains: the severe shortage of parliamentary majorities. As long as the already talked about three-way coalition between the DP, the LSAP and the Greens is not even mathematically possible, all these parties will, out of their own interests, keep open the option of becoming the junior partner in a CSV-led coalition.
The DP has behaved with remarkable restrain so far. The choice of words by Claude Meisch and Xavier Bettel in recent weeks should set antennas buzzing: the Liberals were demanding the resignation of the government as a whole rather than the departure of the Prime Minister. In contrast to the LSAP, who has been declared a scapegoat by the CSV, the Liberals’ party base would probably have no major problems with the party entering into a coalition with the Christian Socials after spending nine years out of power.
The situation is, however, somewhat different with the Greens. The Greens have distanced themselves most from Juncker and CSV during the last parliament, both personally and politically. The party’s parliamentary group leader François Bausch was so uncompromising in his role as SREL rapporteur that any future cooperation with the Prime Minister’s party, which he attacked feverishly over several months, has become impossible on a purely personal level for the foreseeable future.
As far as the ADR is concerned, Gyberien and his troops have been largely excluded from the coalition talks in the past. After being decimated in parliament, the party will be busy fighting for its own survival in the forthcoming elections.
“Déi Lénk” will probably want to stay clear of any coalition, even in the not so unlikely event of the party scoring an electoral success. However, it would be interesting to see whether, in the case of a hung parliament, they would provide an anti-CSV with a parliamentary majority. The same goes for the Pirate Party, which is dreaming of entering parliament.
A short but fierce election campaign awaits the parties this year before they can begin discussing majorities and coalitions. The outcome of the elections is probably as widely open as it has not been for a long time.
The CSV had its back to the wall and will now be playing, even more than before, the card of their top man, who has been battered by the events of the past weeks. For all their effort to distinguish themselves as the only leading, crisis-proven party in the country, “Those behind Juncker” will need to make sure that coalition partners do not start disappearing.
(Source: wort.lu / translation by luxpol)