At long last, Grand Duke Henri has ended the government crisis in Luxembourg and scheduled new elections for 20 October. In the end, both the Prime Minister and the CSV-LSAP coalition government avoided drawing the consequences of the secret service scandal – Juncker by refusing to step down and the Socialists by being spared a vote in parliament on the opposition’s motion of non-confidence, Tonia Koch reports for German public radio Deutschlandfunk.
Less than two weeks ago, the Luxembourg Parliament debated the responsibility of Christian Social Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in the secret affair scandal. Juncker failed to rebut the charge that he had neglected the keep the intelligence service under control. He admitted that he had been unaware of what was going on behind its secret walls, but refused to bear the political responsibility for the scandal. A resignation was out of the question. Instead, the Prime Minister pleaded for new elections, preempting a motion of no confidence by the opposition. “I am calling a government session for ten o’clock tomorrow morning and will afterwards see the Grand Duke to ask him for new elections”, Juncker said.
The shrewd strategist had realised that the Socialists, his coalition partners, would not support him and vote with the opposition after they had failed to force him into a voluntary surrender. Even before the crucial session of parliament, Socialist Party chairman Alex Bodry knew that the role of his party in the regicide would not be universally welcomed. “People love betrayal, but not the betrayer – I am aware of the saying”, he quipped.
In the end, both the Prime Minister and the CSV-LSAP coalition government avoided drawing the consequences from the scandal. Juncker refused to step down because he was unwilling to admit any guilt, while the Socialists were – at least formally – spared the role of the bad guys in the absence of a vote on the motion of non-confidence.
Despite the clear political differences between the coalition partners, the government will remain in place until further notice. The Parliament will continue to meet until the beginning of October and be dissolved only shortly before the elections. This is due primarily to the European Union, says Gilles Roth from the CSV: “Because of the international financial crisis, we cannot afford a situation where we would have no government and no parliament for three or four months.”
The State Council objected on constitutional grounds to the idea of deferring the dissolution of parliament until October instead of dissolving it immediately. The Grand Duke ignored this advisory opinion. Instead, he was convinced by the governing parties that political players should not be restricted in their capacity to act. Regardless of the constitutional problem, the campaign is already in full swing.
The Socialists have nominated Economy Minister Etienne Schneider as their lead candidate in the elections. After receiving an overwhelming vote of support from party delegates, he is seen as an alternative to Christian Social Prime Minister Juncker, whom the Socialists accuse of having neglected the interests of the country. “We need a Prime Minister, first and foremost, for Luxembourg, and not for Europe and the rest of the world”, Schneider told his party congress.
“Mr Euro” counters the allegations with a commitment to Europe. “The euro is our currency as well. When we fight for the survival of the eurozone, then this is also a fight for the purchasing power of the citizens of Luxembourg. To invest yourself for the euro means to invest yourself for the welfare of our nation – both amount to the same thing”, Juncker said.
The Prime Minister can count on the support of his party, and has already been nominated as its lead candidate in the upcoming elections. He has governed Luxembourg for 18 years and remains the longest-serving head of government in the EU.
- Der ewige Juncker: Streit um Termin für Neuwahlen in Luxemburg (dradio.de)
- Juncker: “The LSAP has betrayed our long friendship and inclusive governance” (luxpol.wordpress.com)
- Bodry: Juncker is no superhuman (luxpol.wordpress.com)