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LUXEMBOURG: The Party System from 1963 to 2000, by Noah C. Graubart*

While the party politics of Luxembourg up until the 1960s saw remarkable stability, the period since 1962 has seen a moderate increase in complexity. In recent years, the emergence of many smaller parties as members of the Chamber of Deputies (Luxembourg's lower house of parliament) shows a marked departure from the relative predictability of this country's political past. Couple the presence of these new parties with the disintegration of the Communist party, and the political scene of Luxembourg today looks substantially different than it did forty years ago. However, while these significant changes may have occurred, the main governing parties of the state have remained intact, and in power.

The 1964 elections resulted in the Christian Social Party (CSV) remaining as the senior member of the governing coalition. The junior partner, however, the Democratic Party (PD), was replaced by the Socialist Workers‚ Party (LSAP). The coalition continued to be led by Prime Minister M. Pierre Werner, who assumed leadership of the CSV in 1954, and began his first term as Prime Minister in 1959, a post which he would hold until 1974.

On October 28, 1968, the CSV-LSAP coalition collapsed over a disagreement regarding the funding of social welfare programs (Keesing, 1969: 23142). The Grand Duke (Luxembourg's hereditary monarch) consequently dissolved parliament and called for general elections to be held in January, 1969. As a result, the PD was able to retake its place as a member of the governing coalition.

1974 was a watershed year in Luxembourg party politics. Since 1919, the CSV had been a member of every governing coalition. However, 1974, which saw an election centering upon abortion rights, women's rights, inflation, among other issues, evicted the CSV, as well as Prime Minister Werner, from its hold on power (Keesing, 1974: 26610). When all of the dust had settled, although the CSV remained the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the Socialists and the PD, also known as the Liberals, formed a ruling coalition. The government was led by M. Gaston Thorn, chairman of the PD. This election also witnessed the beginning of a new trend in the party politics of Luxembourg. The relative electoral success of the Social Democratic Party foreshadowed the emergence of numerous new and significant parties in the years to come.

As significant as the ousting of the CSV and M. Pierre Werner was, it was just as short lived. In the 1979 elections, the CSV regained its electoral dominance and formed a new governing coalition with the PD. Once again the Prime Minister was M. Pierre Werner. Werner would finally announce his retirement in 1983, but would remain on in a "caretaker" capacity until a new government was formed the following year (Keesing, 1984: 33298).

In 1984, after agreeing to the reintroduction of wage indexation, without a reduction in the 40 hour work week, the Christian Social Party was able to form a governing coalition with the Socialists (Keesing, 1984: 33299). This partnership remained in power for the next 15 years, until the 1999 elections. Jacques Santer replaced Werner as Prime Minister and leader of the CSV.

While smaller parties continued to garner electoral support, the CSV and LSAP remained partners in the governing coalition until the 1999 elections. At this point, despite the electoral success of minor parties such as the Action Committee for Democracy and Social Justice and the Green Alternative Party (Dei Greng), the traditional parties remain in power. In 1999, the Socialists were removed from the governing coalition and replaced by the PD, with the CSV leader, Jean Claude Juncker, as Prime Minister.

Essentially, while many relatively small, young parties have experienced moderate success at the polls in Luxembourg, the traditional ruling parties have remained in control. At this point, the inclusion of a party other than the CSV, LSAP, or the PD in a governing coalition seems a long way off.

Continuity and Change in Political Parties, 1963-2000

Original Parties from 1950-1962, still continuing to 2000

271 Christian Social Party (CSV). The Christian Socialists have remained the dominant force in the politics of Luxembourg. Throughout the entire period of the original study, continuing to the year 2000, this party of the right has retained the highest number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. From 1958 on, the CSV underwent a steady decline in parliamentary representation, with it actually falling out of the governing coalition from 1974 to 1979. However, in the 1979 elections, it recovered much of its losses. Unfortunately, this resurgence was short-lived, and the party has been slowly declining ever since, as smaller parties have slowly begun to erode at the support of Luxembourg's traditional ruling parties.

272 Socialist Workers‚ Party (LSAP). The LSAP has seen relative stability since 1983. While the Socialist Workers‚ Party has seen some electoral volatility since then, it has been minimal. LSAP consistently receives the second most electoral support of any party in Luxembourg.

273 Democratic Party. The Democratic Party reached the pinnacle of its strength in the early 1980s when it briefly eclipsed LSAP in electoral success. Since 1984, this party has undergone a slow but steady decline as smaller parties have made inroads into the electoral scene. However, while its electoral success often pales in comparison to the Socialist party, it has often been included in coalition governments with the Christian Social Party

New Parties formed after 1962 and Continuing to 2000

275 Action Committee for Democracy and Social Justice. Also known as the Pensioner Party, this group changed its official name from the 5/6 party to its current moniker prior to the 1994 elections. This party was formed to increase pension benefits for citizens. The ADR, its German abbreviation, has steadily increased its electoral support since it first entered parliament in 1989.

2711 Green Alternative Party (GAP/Dei Greng). After forming in 1983 (Keesings, 1984: 33298), this environmentally-minded party underwent a schism in 1986. Two separate parties existed and contested elections until 1995 when the GAP fused with its splinter, the Green List Ecological Initiative, and ran under the name Dei Greng (Braz, 2000). After the 1995 consolidation, Dei Greng raised its parliamentary representation to eight percent.

2712 Green List Ecological Initiative (GLEI). This party formed in 1986 as a splinter from the Green alternative party. In 1989, it gained 3 percent of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies. In 1995, the GLEI rejoined with the GAP.

2713 New Left. The New Left was formed on January 30, 1999 as a conglomeration of former supporters of the Communist Party as well as other leftist groups. It is self-described as "postcommunist" (Dei Lenk, 1999), and supports a far-left agenda that includes a top-to-bottom redistribution of wealth. As of 2000, it had one representative in parliament, Andre Hoffmann.

Original Parties from 1950-1962 but terminating before 2000

274 Communist Party. The parliamentary representation of the Communists in Luxembourg steadily declined from its 1974 levels. By the 1989 elections, the Communist party was only able to secure one seat in the Chamber of Deputies, and did not contest the 1994 elections. Former Communist supporters went on to join with other activists to form the New Left Party.

New Parties formed after 1962 but terminating before 2000

277 Social Democratic Party. In 1971, M. Henry Cravatte, the leader of the LSAP, left the party, followed by many of his supporters, to found a new party. This faction believed that the Socialists should not enter into to coalitions with the Communists at the local government level. In addition, they were upset with the apparent "leftist" policies of the LSAP (Keesing, 1974: 26610). In 1974, the new party entered the elections independently. While initially they received a formidable amount of electoral support, over the next decade, that support evaporated, and the party dissolved in 1983. At that point one Deputy joined the CSV, and the other held his seat as an independent.

278 Enroles de Force. This "pressure group" (Keesing, 1979: 29901) was comprised of activists who called for the compensation from the West German government for the approximately 12,000 soldiers from Luxembourg who were forcibly enlisted into the German Army during World War II. While they gained enough support in the late 1970s to earn one seat in Parliament, they did not appear on the ballot for the 1984 election. At that point, its one Deputy in the Chamber of Deputies joined the CSV.

279 Socialist Independent Party. Led by M. Jean Gremling, the Independent Socialists formed to protest the fact that the LSAP was "compromising [its] ideals" (Keesing, 1979: 29901) The Independent Socialists garnered enough electoral support in 1979 to gain one seat in the Chamber of Deputies. However, by 1984, the party no longer had representation in parliament.

2710 Popular Independent Movement. This movement holds the distinction that, in 1964, it was the first new party to gain seats in parliament since 1950. However, it had a short life, and, come 1968, when it had changed its name to the Party of National Solidarity, was no longer represented in the Chamber of Deputies (Keesings, 1969: 23142).

Braz, F. Party History. (June 27, 2000).
Dei Lenk (1999). (July 13, 2000).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 14. (1964).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 17. (1970).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 20. (1974).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 25. (1979).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 30. (1984).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 35. (1989).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 40. (1994).
Keesing's Record of World Events. Vol. 45. (1999).

*Participant in Northwestern University's Summer Camp for Political Party Research, June-August, 2000