A new party and brand new MPs have been elected to parliament, which means new staffers are coming on board. How does that work?
In the 30 years preceding the 2018 Luxembourg parliamentary elections, only two new political parties joined the Chamber of Deputies: Déi Lénk with one seat in 1999, and before that the ADR with four seats in 1989. Following this year’s elections, the Pirate Party is the third newcomer to secure its first seats in the chamber in almost three decades, with the party’s president, Sven Clement, and Marc Goergen becoming members of parliament for the centre and south constituencies, respectively.
While getting a new party settled into parliament is not something that Luxembourg often does, there are set processes. It goes without saying that the procedure involves a lot of administrative and planning decisions with regards to finding suitable office spaces, equipment and, of course, more staff.
Finding office space
According to the Luxembourg parliamentary regulations, the Chambre des Députés is liable to place all necessary infrastructure--including a fully serviced office near the chamber’s Krautmaart location--at the disposal of those parties represented with seats in parliament. The Pirate Party’s deputies and team are currently working from temporary offices in Luxembourg City, but they are in the process of finding a permanent solution together with the chambre.
“Once the decisions on our future offices have been taken, we’ll be moving into an empty space provided to us by the chambre and we’re receiving parliamentary subsidies for buying anything from furniture and telephones, to computers and internet access,” explains Clement. “All other parties in parliament are obviously settled in offices already, saving them from having to use their funds on equipment.” The Pirate Party’s headquarters remain in Kopstal.
Parliamentary rules also state that the chambre has to provide subsidies for hiring any staff that is needed to support parties represented at the Krautmaart. These funds are especially needed by parties who have taken their first seats in parliament, like the Pirates, and the Greens and the ADR, who have both gained additional seats.
All subsidies granted by the chamber can only be used to cover expenses used for parliamentary activities and not to help with the general running of each individual party. Parliament does regular checks to make sure that the funds go where they should go, and recalculates budgets each year, taking into consideration any changes in the political landscape.
The new budget is currently being updated as the number and size of parliamentary parties has changed since the elections from this October. In 2016, the most recently available figures, the total budget was of around €35m, designated to cover costs related to MP and employee salaries, international parliamentary institutions and party operations.
Finding new staffers
Although the Chamber of Deputies funds the recruitment costs for new staff, it is the task of the individual parties to find suitable candidates by posting job adverts, holding interviews and paying chosen employees from the parliamentary subsidies. Shortly after 14 October, the Pirate Party started recruiting for one parliamentary attaché and one parliamentary secretary to support its two MPs in their everyday work, as well as one political advisor to look after the general administration of the party from its Kopstal headquarters.
“In our recruitment process, we were not looking for any specific diplomas and professional experience; we were considering candidates from all backgrounds,” says Clement. “The first thing we evaluated were the cover letters and if these weren’t right, we didn’t even move on to candidates’ CVs, just like any other company does it. It was important to us that the cover letter should be well-written, showing an interest in, and a knowledge of, the Luxembourgish political system. After all, we don’t want our new colleagues to lose motivation for their jobs after just a few weeks.”
The Pirate Party took the advice of two HR specialists to help with hiring decisions. It turned out that two candidates interviewing for the parliamentary attaché position performed particularly well, so the party decided to go above budget and hire them both. “This means that the parliamentary subsidies are no longer enough to cover the entire salaries,” explains Clement. “We’re paying the rest from the MPs’ own pockets. We’re definitely not using any of the funds given to us by the chambre to go on holidays.”