State of the Nation Address

"Eight years after the property tax reform was announced..."

The announcements made by Xavier Bettel appear to be the subject of an almost unanimous consensus within the other parties of the government majority.  (Photo: Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne)

The announcements made by Xavier Bettel appear to be the subject of an almost unanimous consensus within the other parties of the government majority.  (Photo: Romain Gamba/Maison Moderne)

The state of the nation speech given by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Parliament on Tuesday caused an immediate reaction. After the session, some people looked grim, while others, not just from the government majority camp, were smiling.

After 18 months of sanitary exile at the Cercle Cité, the deputies on Tuesday returned to the Parliament building on rue du Marché-aux-Herbes. The programme for the afternoon included the state of the nation speech by prime minister and minister of state Xavier Bettel.

The speech appeared to be much richer in announcements than the one delivered almost 12 months earlier to the day by the former mayor of Luxembourg City. It is true that the prospects for Covid-19, mainly thanks to the progress of vaccination campaigns, are obviously no longer the same today as they were in October 2020.

In the DP-LSAP-déi Gréng camp, the ideas put forward by the prime minister for nearly two hours were largely supported. The déi Gréng camp was particularly satisfied with the broad section devoted to the climate crisis.

"Involving citizens in the climate issue is a good idea”

"This speech focused on what is important by being concrete. The Prime Minister convinced me on many points,” said Josée Lorsché, president of the déi Gréng parliamentary group. "We felt the desire to lead society towards the goals we set ourselves and the objectives we want to achieve, particularly in terms of reducing CO2 (a 55% reduction by 2030, 100% by 2050, editor's note).”

The representative was also delighted with the establishment of a "Citizens' Climate Bureau,” a council that will bring together 100 people from all walks of life to discuss specific climate issues. "This is something that was already done at the level of spatial planning in 2017 and it received a strong response. It's a good idea to involve citizens and give them some responsibility."

Sven Clement and Xavier Bettel's purple thread

Unsurprisingly, the opposition looked rather grim after hearing Bettel deliver his eighth policy speech. Well, that wasn’t the case for everyone. One person was smiling brightly: Sven Clement (Piraten). "I discovered a 'purple thread' in the prime minister's speech! Many of the ideas that we had put forward in the past and that had been rejected by the government have apparently been picked up,” the Piraten party leader said, referring to "the consultation of citizens, which we were told was of no interest, and which will be effective with a 'Citizen's Climate Office,’ or the ‘CO2 compensation' (of government missions, editor's note), which we had proposed in Parliament and which we were told was impossible.”

"I am pleased that a small party can push the government to change its mind," he concluded, without losing his smile.

What about the tax reform?

In the ranks of the main opposition party, the CSV, Martine Hansen, practically brushed aside the majority's proposals. "Where is the tax reform? It was THE big reform of the Bettel II government, and it is absent. This is not acceptable,” explained the co-chair of the parliamentary faction, who "did not really see any solutions to the major problems that affect us today, namely the climate and housing crises, in what has been proposed. The property tax reform has been announced for eight years. But I have not yet seen anything concrete."

Bettel who announced that "the government plans to table a bill on the reform of the property tax in the next 12 months,” will still have a year to counter that accusation and to implement what appeared to be one of the key arguments in his speech on Tuesday.

"A bland speech”

In the ADR camp, this general policy speech reinforced Fernand Kartheiser 's earlier observation: "The coalition parties have clearly entered pre-election mode,” he says. "It was not a government speech, but a speech about managing the country. And where in this speech is the reform of the Constitution, which is said to be the major project of this majority? There is a lack of ambition in mentioning things that we have already heard 1,000 times. And then, they hand out money.”

Myriam Cecchetti (déi Lénk) made the same observation: "Gifts are given to those who vote for the majority parties, but no thought is given to those at the bottom of the ladder. I missed the social and educational aspects, and above all the concrete things. It was a … bland speech."

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.