Elections to the European Parliament in Luxembourg for the first time were not held simultaneously with the elections to the Chamber of Deputies. In 2013, early elections had been called after the Luxembourg Socialist Workers Party (SAP) withdrew their support from Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and his Christian Social People’s party, CSV. The cause of the governing crisis was a flagrant violation of the law by the Luxembourg Secret Service, an act supposedly carried out without Juncker’s knowledge, though he was responsible for monitoring the service.
Both coalition parties lost votes in the elections of October 2013, dropping to 34% and 19% respectively. The Greens and the right-wing nationalist Democratic Reformists Alternative also both suffered losses.
The big winner in the chamber of deputies election was the Liberal Democratic Party (TDP), which rose from 15 to 19%, and the small Left Party. The latter continues its steady climb, and increased its share of the vote by a third to 4.5%, and the number of its deputies from 1 to 2. The Communist Party of Luxembourg lost slightly, down to 1.5%, and gained no seats. The new participant in the election was the Pirate Party, which won 13% but did not win any seats.
As a result, the DP, the LSAP and the Greens formed a government without the CSV, which had been in power since 1926 with only one break, the Liberal Socialist government of 1974 to 1979.
The elections to the European Parliament thus provided an opportunity for evaluating the new government and the opposition.
The electoral system
Luxembourg elected only six representatives to the European Parliament, elected on a national basis by proportional representation. That means that a party has to win about one sixth of the vote to win a seat. That encourages people not to waste their votes, but to vote for the parties who can win seats. Seats are distributed by the d'Hondt method, which is disadvantageous to smaller parties.
In Luxembourg, voting is mandatory up to the age of seventy-five. Dissatisfaction with parties of the political system can therefore not be expressed by staying away from the polls, but only by a larger number of blank or spoiled ballots. According to a survey carried out on Election Day 2009, the parties at both ends of the political spectrum profit from this system. 80% of all voters stated that they would go to the polls even if it were not mandatory, but only 45% of the voters for the KPL and 64% of the voters for the Left Party made that statement
One unusual feature, moreover, is that every voter has six votes. If he backs a party, the vote counts for every candidate in that party. However, it is also possible to vote for candidates and one or several lists, and even to give up to two votes to a single candidate. Personalities are major factor in the voting decision.
Moreover, a notable feature of Luxembourg is that the majority of the working population does not participate in the elections. Of the 365,000 dependent employees, 44% are border crossers from France, Belgium and Germany, 27% are immigrants and 29% are Luxembourgers. The social composition of the voting population of Luxembourg is moreover very different from that of the rest of the population. The results of the census of 2011 show that Luxembourg voters are on the average older than the overall population, their unemployment rate is lower and a much higher percentage of them work in the public service sector, while blue-collar workers are underrepresented. This situation has a negative effect on the results of left parties, and increases the weight of right-wing nationalist parties who can hope for little support from the immigrants.
In EU elections, the opinion of immigrants – 250,000 of the 550,000 residents – would be very considerable, considering the fact that 90% of them are EU citizens. But, of the less than 180,000 eligible voters from other EU countries, only 21,650 have registered to vote in Luxembourg. How many of them voted in their home countries is not known.
Voter participation decreased compared with 2009, from 90.8% to 85.6%. Apparently, the possibilities for gaining an exemption from the duty to vote was used more broadly than in 2009, when a double election was held. Notably, too, a high proportion of blank or invalid ballots increased from 9.2% to 9.9%.
1) Party for Integrative Democracy, a split-off from the ADR
The results of the parties
The clear victor was the CSV, which increased its share by almost 7 percentage points, to 38%, which was also an increase over its results in the chamber of deputies election of 2013. It achieved its best results in an EP election, retaining the three seats it had won in 2009. No doubt the CVS profited from the media presence of Juncker – who did not run for parliament – and also from the prominence of its candidate, Viviane Reding, vice president of the EU commission.
The losers in the election were the three parties of the governing coalition. The LSAP dropped by almost a percentage points to 12%; nonetheless, like the DP and the Greens, who suffered smaller losses, they won one seat.
Although increasing their vote, the smaller parties won their seats. The winners of the election include the Left Party, which almost doubled its vote over 2009, and increased its share over the 2013 election.
The ADR, and the right edge of the political spectrum, which is associated with the conservative AECR group in the European Parliament, was able to win votes again for the first time since 1999. In 2009 and in the parliamentary elections of 2013, the ADR lost votes due to the split off of its left wing. Since then, it has moved further to the right.
The ADR, which campaigned under the slogan “less Europe more Luxembourg”, is opposed to immigration in the Luxembourg social system, and is in favor of the protection of Luxembourg’s identity and the Luxembourg language, which it would like to implement as another official language of the EU. The ADR is particularly opposed to the right of immigrants to vote for the chamber of deputies, which is supported by the governing parties, and by the Left Party, but is opposed by the CSV and the GPL. For years, a majority of Luxembourg was also in favor of extending the voting rights. However, while 59% were in favor in 2012, that figure dropped to 39% in April 2014.
The results of the Left
Shares of the vote of the radical leftists in European elections in Luxembourg, 1979-2014
in Déi Lénk
1) 1994: New Left, founded by a KPL split off and the Revolutionary-Socialist Party (RSP, formerly LCR); 1999: the Left Party, as an alliance of the new left and the KPL; thereafter, as a separate party
2) Independent Socialist Party, left split off from the LSAP
3) Green-Alternative Alliance
The Left Party was able to almost double its results over 2009, and increase its vote over that in the parliamentary election of 2013. It probably also profited from the sobering performance of the new government, which has continued its neo-liberal austerity policies. The ministers of the government have lost considerable sympathy compared with December 2013, while the left party deputy Serge Urbany was able to increase his vote. One factor that may have been important was that, unlike in the parliamentary election, the Left Party’s most respected politician, seventy-three-year-old André Hoffmann, was a candidate, and received many personal votes.
The Left Party ran with a very detailed program under the slogan “rebuild Europe”. “Neither the neo-liberal Europeanism, nor the nationalist isolationism serves the interests of the peoples, and especially not the wage-dependent population. It is important to take a new direction, in order to rebuild and unite Europe on a different basis from that of finance capitalism.”
The Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL) stagnated at a low level. It presented a short program, which stated that the EU is not reformable. It demanded the dissolution of the EU and the abolition of the euro.
Taken together, the two parties reached 17.25%, the best result for the radical left since the beginning of direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979. A new participant in in the election was the Pirate Party, which in the perception of the voters, is to the left of the LSAP and the Greens. They were able to improve their results from the chamber election, and may have especially drawn votes from the Greens and the Left Party.
IN POWER: PD (right)
Radical left party in the EP: 0 seats of 6
The “Left” was founded in 1999 and is the successor to the Communist Party of Luxembourg. Obtaining 4.9% of the vote in the 2013 general elections, the party won a seat in the parliament.