2013 brought disruptive politics, removing the status quo of CSV plus one, and in its place a coalition of DP, LSAP and the Greens, led by the unmistakable Xavier Bettel.

Sitting in the prime-ministerial office, a desk full of documents to sign, his eclectic collection of pop art on the walls and dotted around the tables, Bettel is a communications expert, but with it, a sincerity.  Bettel’s political career started with a petition to Lydie Polfer (current mayor of Luxembourg city, who was also was mayor when he was a teenager) to ask for a playground. He got his wish. The power of politics to get things done was soaked up by the young Bettel.

He settled on the Democratic Party because of its lack of association with church or unions. “Economically more right wing, ethically more left wing”; precisely what appealed to him.

Over the last five years, Xavier Bettel and his government have pushed for change perhaps unthinkable under a CSV leadership: the separation of state and church; extensive parental leave for fathers; National Day which is now a civil celebration rather than a military and church parade; abortion rights for women.

His hope is that CSV won’t undo this work if they return to government, and says the DP could only work with them if they continue in same direction; “not to turn clock back”.

“I don’t want to stand next to Luxembourg’’

Perhaps the toughest part of his tenure was LuxLeaks. Bettel reflected quietly, recalling one politician saying "I don’t want to stand next to Luxembourg’.”

He feels they managed to turn this reputation around, and is proud of putting the country on map for what it can do; proud to be facing this election with good news for the economy and a different sense of purpose for the country.

“I feel well if my country feels well’

What does it take to be a leader? For Prime Minister Bettel it is the ability to listen, to take decisions, explain your decisions, and generally to like people.

Carpe Diem

"My father always told my mum, ‘We will do that when I retire’. He died a few weeks after he retired in 1999". Bettel was sworn in as a Député in August 1999, aged 26. The elections were in the October, and his father died a few days before the elections.

This is one of the reasons why Bettel cares so much about parental leave. He sees the huge value in family time, time that is never guaranteed to come back another day.

The election interviews

The video interviews are left in long-form, rather than short sound-bites, to get a better sense of the person, their sincerity to lead their parties and possibly Luxembourg. 

The focus is on getting to know the person behind the politics. These are not hard-core political interviews (yet).

Many of the political websites here are not in English. For fairness, we have asked similar questions of all leaders. The interviews are being published in the same order as the parties appear on the voting lists.

For more information on how the election process works in Luxembourg go to Knowledge Bites Election.

Lisa Burke