The countdown has begun. In less than three months, voters will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. In the meantime, political parties will need to move up another gear to prepare for the ballot, after a gentle start of the year when they were still thinking about legislative elections in May 2014. How do the smaller parties, less fortunate on the budget side, fare in this contest? Christiane Kleer reports for Le Quotidien.
This will be the first election campaign for the Pirates. However, the party probably broke all records by publishing its campaign slogan as early as May. “When we founded the Pirate Party following the elections of 2009, it was precisely to be ready for the next election. Then, when the SREL scandal broke, we immediately called for new elections, so we obviously had to be ready in time”, Jerry Weyer, in charge of the election campaign of the Pirate Party, told us.
This will not prevent the next few weeks from resembling a real race against the clock. According to the election law, candidate lists must be submitted “at least sixty days before the election” to the competent district court – a bet almost won by the Pirates, whose lists in the north and the east have already been approved by the respective local party congresses. Another challenge remains: to collect one hundred signatures in each constituency, also before 20 August.
A further provision of the election law, section 135, reads: “Candidates are presented jointly, either by one hundred registered voters the constituency, or by an elected MP in the constituency (…) or by three councilors elected in or more municipalities in the constituency.” In other words, a party without elected representative, such as the Pirate Party, must gather 400 signatures in order to stand for elections in all four constituencies. “It’s not the signatures that represent a problem, but the deadline. Especially since the district court has not yet sent us the correct form. Being a small party, we find the administrative side of the elections more difficult to manage”, Weyer said.
In the meantime, the Pirates will also need to draft a manifesto in the weeks to come and keep an eye on the funds raised through their website. Parties without parliamentary representation do not receive any state subsidies. “So far, we have raised 4,792 euros in donations, but we hope to manage 25,000”, Weyer added.
A smaller than expected campaign
Technically, the Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL) is at present in a similar position to that of Pirates, despite the fact that they are a veteran party and have three municipal councilors in the South constituency. “In all the other districts, we need to collect 100 signatures”, KPL chair Ali Ruckert said.
His party did not support the call for early elections, arguing that they would “not change anything”, will now have to change its tune. “We wanted to have an open list, with candidates who are not necessarily members of our party, at the next elections, but this will now prove to be much more complicated”, Ruckert lamented. The KPL’s campaign would necessarily be more modest than expected. Suddenly, the party chairman burst into a denunciation of the election rules: “The electoral law should be changed, for the parties are not equal before the law.”
A much more relaxed atmosphere reigned at the offices of Déi Lénk and the ADR. Even though they are small parties, they are represented in parliament, which entitles them to some modest state funding, for instance to cover staff expenses. When faced with a small budget, a short campaign can only be an advantage. “In a short campaign, small parties are better able to compete with their large counterparts,” according to Joëlle Gianotte, who runs the ADR’s campaign. She spoke of a rather “relaxed” mood within his party “despite the turmoil of recent weeks.” Candidate lists were due to be finalised tonight, and the 2009 party manifesto would simply be updated for the forthcoming elections.
No need for polling
David Wagner, the spokesperson for Déi Lenk, acknowledged that the elections represented a challenge but did not see any blatant disadvantages, if not the pressure of time. “We proposed to extend the deadline for presenting candidate lists by one month. Having to submit them sixty days before the elections is exaggerated”, Wagner said. Nevertheless, the party’s lists were almost ready. “This time we even had the unpleasant task of refusing candidates – there were so many of them.” He said that his party was looking forward to the campaign with “enthusiasm” and “optimism”, with stress being part of the game. Wagner Davis concluded: “Unlike other parties, our manifesto will change little – this has always been so, despite it being updated. We do not need opinion polls to know what is trending.”
- Les partis «pas égaux devant la loi» (lequotidien.lu)