Luxembourg update

I’m working on the second part of my series on the far left, but it won’t be ready until tomorrow, so first here’s a quick update about Luxembourg (see last week’s preview here).

In keeping with the theme, Sunday’s election produced a small gain for the far left (called, as in Germany, “The Left”). It rose from 4.9% to 5.5%, retaining its two seats. Some of that came at the expense of the smaller Communist Party of Luxembourg, which again failed to win a seat.

And that lack of change was typical; it was very much a status quo election (see official results here). The three governing parties – liberals/centrists, centre-left and Greens – remained just below half the vote, winning 49.6% between them. Although that was up 1% on last time, they actually dropped a seat, but retained a narrow majority with 31 seats out of 60.

The centre-right Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) is still the largest party, but it put in the worst performance, losing 5.4% and three seats, greatly weakening its claim for a return to government. The Alternative Democratic Reform Party, the closest thing Luxembourg has to a far-right Eurosceptic party, picked up 2.2% and regained the fourth seat that it lost in 2013.

A seventh party also gained representation – the Pirates, who more than doubled their vote to 6.4% and won two seats.

Within the government, the centre-left Socialists are losing ground (down 2.7% and three seats), in keeping with their performance across the continent, while the Greens are gaining (up 5.0% and three seats). The centrist Democratic Party mostly held its ground, down 1.3% and one seat.

So while there will be the usual round of manoeuvring and negotiations, the obviously likely outcome is that the existing coalition will be re-formed, and that Democratic Party leader Xavier Bettel will continue as prime minister.

For all its quaintness, Luxembourg is a fairly typical European country in its politics, and in no way immune to the trends that we’ve seen elsewhere. On the minus side, that means that the traditional mainstream parties are losing ground and the extremes are gaining.

On the plus side, it means that those movements are more modest than a great deal of commentary would imply, and the centre remains strong.

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