Prime Minister Xavier Bettel sat down with our colleagues from RTL 5 Minutes to reflect on four tumultuous years in office. Bettel discusses the problems he encountered, the prospects for the future, and reveals what he considers to be the secret to the success of the Luxembourgish social model.

Just over four years ago, Xavier Bettel was re-elected as head of the Luxembourgish government, barely five months after the historic floods that ravaged the Mullerthal. It was unimaginable at the time, but the worst was yet to come.

Less than a year later, the municipalities of Bascharage and Pétange were hit by a tornado the likes of which had never been seen in the Grand Duchy. This put the climate crisis back on the political agenda and was followed by unprecedented demonstrations in the streets of Luxembourg's capital.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic. An unprecedented crisis that brought the world to a standstill – Luxembourg was no exception. And just as the economy was recovering from months of lockdowns and closures, a war broke out in Ukraine, on Europe's doorstep. In an interview with our colleagues from RTL 5 Minutes, the Prime Minister talks about his experience.

"I would have preferred not to have a crisis and to do something else," he says. "€5.5 billion was spent in the context of the pandemic, the war, and above all to help households on a daily basis (…) we could have done many other things with such means," Bettel added.

This is in fact his only regret as he faces a pivotal period in his political career. "I would have liked to see the tax reform through, but I can't finance it," he confirms a few months before the legislative elections. The single tax scale promised in 2019 will therefore have to wait.


© Arnaud Serexhe/ RTL Luxembourg

Despite the difficulties, Xavier Bettel thinks that Luxembourg has emerged "strengthened" from these crises, thanks to what he considers to be the country's "magic recipe" – the tripartite format.

"It's not always easy, but over the past nine years we have always managed to sit down around a table to find solutions," the Prime Minister says. This is what makes him believe that the tripartite is "Luxembourg's magic potion" that guarantees social peace.

In this context, Bettel does not hesitate to mention the protest movements in neighbouring countries. "Look at Belgium, look at France, the strike last week, look at Germany, the strikes there. I don't even remember the last strike [in Luxembourg]."

However, not all decisions have been unanimous. The deferral of the wage indexation, for example, prompted strong opposition from the Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation (OGBL). Nearly 2,500 demonstrators took to the streets of the capital to protest against this measure, something which the Prime Minister has not forgotten. "I must have the courage to take decisions, even if they are sometimes unpopular," he said.

In view of the circumstances, Bettel nevertheless thinks that the government made "the right calls." He points out that, despite the repeated crises, Luxembourg's inflation rate is lower than that of many European countries, and that unemployment and public debt have not skyrocketed.

But the chaos of the past four years has clearly not affected the politician's motivation, with Bettel saying that he is ready to run again if voters and his party want him to. "I have the energy, I have the passion, and the desire to do it, but my party has not yet proposed it to me. It will be up to them to decide whether or not to bring me back into the campaign", he comments.

In the end, it will of course be up to the voters to decide – something which Xavier Bettel is very much aware of. "The voters are all my bosses and I have an appointment every five years to find out if I continue. It's a fixed-term contract," he joked.

Video report by RTL 5 Minutes with interview excerpts (in French):