“The Prime Minister served us an interminable two-hour activity report. A speech devoid of anything new.” After the State of the Nation address by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (DP) all opposition parties made the same unhappy assessment.
Each party then made its own personal comments. Fernand Kartheiser (ADR) was not into half measures when he mentioned “a speech inversely proportional in its length to its interest.” Martine Hansen, co-leader of the CSV parliamentary faction in the Chamber, and Sven Clement, the Pirates MP, pointed to Bettel’s words “lacking vision for the future” and a collection of “measures previously announced, but not sufficiently implemented.”
“You can't always reinvent the wheel.”
It is true that the Prime Minister's speech foreshadowed the October 2023 legislative elections, in that he focused on a review of the current legislature rather than setting out new reforms. A point of view that his party, the DP, did not reject.
“We are, in fact, in a pre-election year. So, to take stock, but also to make projections on what remains to be done, is quite legitimate,” commented Gilles Baum, the president of the DP parliamentary group. “I can understand that the opposition parties only moderately appreciate this, that they would have liked to have a little more. But you can't always reinvent the wheel. Our country has structural problems that cannot be solved in six months and which we work on every day. Our priorities are known: to try to keep inflation as low as possible, to make sure that our companies get through the crises without collapsing and to guarantee the purchasing power of the population.”
I can understand that the opposition parties only moderately appreciate this, that they would have liked to have a little more.
The position of his partner in the government coalition, Yves Cruchten (LSAP), was not so different. “The speech on Tuesday showed that this coalition has done a lot of work. But also that there is (still) a lot of work to be done,” said the president of the LSAP fraction. He praised the Prime Minister who “expressed to the population, in the name of the government, that they could count on him. And this in very important areas, such as health, the economy, housing and climate policy.”
But some, including Fernand Kartheiser and the ADR, once again saw in Xavier Bettel's obstinacy in keeping the debt below 30% of GDP, and in refusing a major tax reform, a “rejection of the ideas carried by Dan Kersch and the left wing of the LSAP.” “It would be irresponsible to finance it today on credit,” said the Prime Minister.
Climate measures or “blah, blah, blah”
While many are waiting to hear about the “concrete fiscal measures” that Finance Minister Yuriko Backes (DP) is due to present this Wednesday 12 October (along with the 2023 budget), it is the environment and measures against climate change that were in the spotlight on Tuesday. These themes were prominent in the Prime Minister's speech. The measure that provides for public aid to install photovoltaic panels on virtually all the country's roofs attracted attention.
“Mr Bettel and the government have learned the lessons of the past,” said Josée Lorsché, president of the parliamentary group Déi Gréng, the third government partner. “We have to become more independent from fossil fuels. If we were already more independent today, we would not be suffering the effects of the energy crisis we are experiencing. Fortunately, the ecological transition will accelerate.”
A view that Myriam Cecchetti and Déi Lénk did not really share. “Forests are burning, rivers are drying up, floods are multiplying, etc. And what measures will the state take? Personally, I have not heard anything concrete. If I were Greta Thunberg, I would say it was ‘blah, blah, blah.”