© Pierre-Marie Koch
Minister for Home Affairs Taina Bofferding sat down with our colleagues from RTL Radio on Saturday to discuss the upcoming elections, policy proposals, and the impact of the numerous global crises on the Grand Duchy's municipalities.
Paulette Lenert needs a 'strong team' for the elections
"I enjoy my work very much and am eager to continue it," Minister for Home Affairs Taina Bofferding said regarding the legislative elections in October.
The likely frontrunner of the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP), Paulette Lenert, needs "a strong team" around her "and I want to be part of it." Although Bofferding has been active in the party for much longer, she is not bothered by the rapid rise to the top of Paulette Lenert, whose political career only started in recent years. According to the Minister for Home Affairs, it is important to find motivated people to form a strong team for the elections.
Bofferding acknowledged that the LSAP ministers did not always see eye to eye, but stressed that they generally got along well and, above all, worked well together.
The LSAP has always been a party that likes to engage in frequent, and sometimes public, discussions, according to Bofferding. Examples of this could be seen earlier this year, including a letter on the rent and lease draft bill by LSAP members Maxime Miltgen, Ben Streff, and Max Leners or an article on the tax policy of the Democratic Party (DP) by Dan Kersch. The Minister for Home Affairs stressed that she had not seen any of these articles before publication.
Tax adjustments before the elections?
The most important thing, Bofferding said, is to come together at the end of the day to find solutions, adding that this approach also applies to the tax issue. The corresponding task force within the government is still working, so that hopefully - if the government has the necessary leeway - possible adjustments could come before the elections.
Taina Bofferding as lead candidate in the south: Not impossible
While she would be willing to lead her party into the elections as lead candidate in southern Luxembourg, Bofferding pointed out that this decision is not hers to make. She stated that she enjoys her work as minister and is "very happy" with her two departments, Home Affairs and Equality between Women and Men. "I have also not completed my projects yet, which is why I would like to continue," Bofferding added.
For her party, social democracy is not just a concept, but a lived reality, she explained. Bofferding declined to comment on potential lead candidates, but noted that there are "a number of strong LSAP candidates in the southern district." The final decision would be reached through "a fully grassroots procedure." Nevertheless, the Minister spoke out in favour of male-female dual lead candidates.
Limiting minister mandates a 'reasonable' idea
Different generations should be represented in politics, says the current minister, who believes that limiting the number of years a minister can serve is a "reasonable" idea. She herself cannot imagine staying in office "for more than ten years" and could see herself doing "something completely different" at some point.
Bofferding said that more experienced politicians have helped her a lot, and she also strives to be a mentor to younger politicians.
Minister for Home Affairs against double mandates, 'but it's not just up to me'
The next government must finally take a stance on the issue of double mandates, said the Minister for Home Affairs. The LSAP politician is also against the creation of a second Chamber of Deputies, such as the "Chamber of Communes" proposed by the Association of Luxembourg Cities and Municipalities (Syvicol).
FPTP system 'might be abolished one day'
Bofferding believes that Luxembourg might one day abolish the first-past-the-post electoral system, which is currently used in municipalities with a population of under 3,000 inhabitants, following the lead of Belgium and France. In the eyes of the Minister for Home Affairs, the proportional representation system is not only more transparent, but it also allows residents to run on a single ticket in the form of a "citizens' list."
Luxembourg weathered the Covid-19 pandemic 'relatively well'
While Luxembourg has many social safety nets and measures in place to assist people in more vulnerable situations, new challenges and problems arise from time to time, and according to Bofferding, one must always adapt, bring in new ideas, and possibly rethink current policies. Luxembourg has fared quite well in comparison to other European countries, according to the Minister, with the government "very involved" and "helping people as much as possible." However, the war in Ukraine is still causing a lot of uncertainty, and in the midst of all of that the Grand Duchy also has to deal with the current housing crisis, Bofferding said.
Impact of crises noticeable on local level as well
The impact of all these problems has also been seen in recent years in the municipalities, which have been worried about their finances, among other things, Bofferding explained. For this reason, she has further expanded the financial department in the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to be able to actively advise the municipalities. She wanted to turn the ministry, which was seen as a dusty old administration by many, into "a reliable partner at the side of the municipalities."
The municipalities could and should play a more active role in the creation of affordable housing in the future, the minister said. "The municipalities have the means and are encouraged to use them," Bofferding stressed. She remarked that it has always irritated her that when it comes to tangible actions to create effective affordable housing, people start looking for excuses. For this reason, Bofferding is pleased that there are more obligations today.
The Minister for Home Affairs implemented a measure through the Housing Pact requiring municipalities to create a specific rate of affordable housing space for new special development plans (PAP). Furthermore, with the building land contract and the ministerial re-parcelling mechanism, Bofferding has given herself the means to fight land speculation and push for progress in the housing crisis.
Putting women on lists just to fill empty spots is 'not enough'
The Minister supports "substantially increasing" the amount of political leave granted to local politicians "who simply need more time to fulfil their municipal duties."
The fact that every fourth person elected to municipal political office in Luxembourg is a woman is "not enough," in the eyes of the Minister of Equality between Women and Men. "It's not enough to use only 50% of the population's capabilities to lead the country's municipalities," Bofferding stressed, adding that "we need many different people to lead the communes."
In the same vein, Bofferding also argued that it is "not enough" to place women on lists only to fill up empty spots. "They must be presented and their skills must be highlighted," the Minister said. "There are many women who are very capable, and they are needed in politics," Bofferding added.
Property tax reform meant to ensure fairness between owners
Speaking about the property tax reform, Bofferding explained that it is meant to ensure fairness between owners, pointing out that the current system still relies on "values from 1941" and at times leads to "absurd situations." It is the Minister's goal to get rid of these incoherences and bring the system into the 21st century.