Politics of Luxembourg

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The politics of Luxembourg takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister of Luxembourg is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is under the constitution of 1868, as amended, exercised by the government, by the Grand Duke and the Council of Government (cabinet), which consists of a prime minister and several other ministers. Usually the prime minister is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties having the most seats in parliament. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, elected directly to five-year terms.

Recent political history

Since the end of World War II, the Christian Social People's Party (CSV) has been the senior partner in all governing coalitions with two exceptions: 1974-79 (DP-LSAP coalition) and since 2013 (DP-LSAP-Green coalition). The Catholic-oriented CSV resembles Christian democratic political parties in other West European nations, and enjoys broad popular support making it the strongest party in the country and the second strongest in those regions where it is not the "number one".

The Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP) is a party of social-democratic orientation which has been a junior partner in most governments since 1974 either with the CSV in 1984–1999 and 2004-2013, or the Democratic Party in 1974-1979. Its stronghold lies in the industrial belt in the south of the country (the Minette Region, which is mainly the canton of Esch).

The Democratic Party (DP) is a liberal party, drawing support from self-employed persons, the business community and the urban upper middle class. Like other West European liberal parties, it advocates a mixture of basic social legislation and minimum government involvement in the economy. It is strongly pro-NATO and defends the idea of a secular state in which religion should not play any role in public life. The DP had been a junior partner in coalition governments with the CSV in 1979–1984 and 1999–2004, and senior partner in a coalition government with the LSAP in 1974-1979. The traditional stronghold of the party is the City of Luxembourg, the Buergermeeschter (Mayor) of the nation's capital coming usually from the ranks of the DP.

The Communist Party (KPL), which received 10%-18% of the vote in national elections from World War II to the 1960s, won only two seats in the 1984 elections, one in 1989, and none in 1994. Its small remaining support lies in the heavily industrialized south.

The Greens have received growing support since it was officially formed in 1983. It opposes both nuclear weapons and nuclear power and supports environmental and ecological preservation measures. This party generally opposes Luxembourg's military policies, including its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In the June 2004 parliamentary elections, the CSV won 24 seats, the LSAP 14, the DP 10, the Greens 7, and the Alternative Democratic Reform Party 5. The Left and the Communist Party each lost its single seat in part due to their separate campaigns. The Democratic Party which had become the junior coalition partner in 1999 registered heavy losses. The long-reigning CSV was the main winner, partly due to the personal popularity of the prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker (CSV). In July 2004, it chose the LSAP as its coalition partner. Jean Asselborn (LSAP) was appointed as the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. In 2013, the CSV lost one seat (23 seats instead of 24).

A complete list of all governments is maintained on the website of the Government of Luxembourg.[1]

In 2008, a bitter controversy over euthanasia had parliament pass a measure which would restrict the legislative veto powers of the Grand Duke, who had opposed the pro-euthanasia law on the grounds of his personal moral standards based on the Christian faith, a problem of private conscience very similar to what had occurred in Belgium in the early 1990s when King Baudouin expressed his opposition to a law liberalizing abortion.

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Grand Duke Henri 7 October 2000
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel DP 4 December 2013
Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider LSAP 4 December 2013

Luxembourg has a parliamentary form of government with a constitutional monarchy operating according to absolute primogeniture.

According to the constitution of 1868, executive power is exercised by the Grand Duke or Grand Duchess and the cabinet, which consists of a Prime Minister and a variable number of government branch ministers. The Grand Duke has the power to dissolve the legislature and reinstate a new one. However, since 1919, sovereignty has resided with the nation.[2]

The monarchy is hereditary within the ruling dynasty of Luxembourg-Nassau.

The prime minister and vice prime minister are appointed by the monarch, following popular elections to the Chamber of Deputies. All government members are responsible to the Chamber of Deputies. The government is currently a coalition of the DP, LSAP and Green Party.

Legislative branch

The Chamber of Deputies (Luxembourgish: D'Chamber; French: Chambre des Députés) has 60 members, elected for a five-year term by proportional representation in four multi-seat constituencies.

The Council of State (Luxembourgish: Staatsrot; French: Conseil d'État) is an advisory body composed of 21 citizens (usually politicians or senior public servants with good political ties) proposed by the Council of Government and appointed by the Grand Duke. Traditionally the heir of the throne is also one of its members. Its role is to advise the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation.[3] The function of councillor ends after a continuous or discontinuous period of fifteen years or when the relevant person reaches the age of seventy-two. The responsibilities of the members of the Council of State are extracurricular to their normal professional duties.

Political parties and elections

Judicial branch

Luxembourgish law is based upon the Code Napoléon with numerous updates, modernisations and modifications. The apex of the judicial system is the Superior Court of Justice (Luxembourgish: Iewechte Geriichtshaff; French: Cour Supérieure de Justice), whose judges are appointed by the Grand Duke for life. The same goes for the Administrative Court (Luxembourgish: Verwaltungsgeriicht; French: Cour Administrative).

Administrative divisions

The Grand Duchy is divided into twelve cantons:

These are part of:


Main article: Luxembourg Army

Luxembourg's contribution to its defence and to NATO consists of a small but well-equipped army of volunteers of Luxembourgish and foreign nationality. Its operational headquarters are at the Haerebierg Military Center in Diekirch.

Being a landlocked country, it has no navy. It also has no air force. According to an agreement with neighbouring Belgium, its airspace is protected by the Belgian Air Force. Also 18 NATO Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) airplanes are registered as aircraft of Luxembourg based on a decision of the NATO Authorities.[4]

International organization membership

Luxembourg is a member of ACCT, Australia Group, Benelux, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, ITUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, Zangger Committee

See also


  1. Government website
  2. Constitution of Luxembourg. Government of Luxembourg. URL accessed 19 May 2006
  3. Structure. Conseil d'Etat. URL accessed 19 May 2006.
  4. Luxembourg - NATO AEW Force. 8 September 2005. Aeroflight.co.uk. URL accessed 9 May 2006

Further reading

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