New chief of staff Jeff Feller

“I'd rather work in the shadows than in the light”

Jeff Feller will become the Prime Minister's chief of staff from 1 September. A "unique position" in Luxembourg politics. (Photo: Andrés Lejona/Maison Moderne)

Jeff Feller will become the Prime Minister's chief of staff from 1 September. A "unique position" in Luxembourg politics. (Photo: Andrés Lejona/Maison Moderne)

Jeff Feller, 30, will replace Paul Konsbruck as Xavier Bettel chief of staff in September. He has been involved in politics for ten years, but chose to work in an operational capacity rather than as an elected official.

Jeff Feller: Everything happened very quickly. When Paul Konsbruck announced that he was leaving his post and changing professional careers, prime minister Xavier Bettel contacted me. I have known him for many years, and this is an opportunity you can't refuse. If the prime minister asks to work with you, it's an opportunity you can't turn down. So I thought about it for a few days, but I didn't hesitate for long.

JF: I don't think it's a position you can consider, because it's a unique position in Luxembourg. If you work in the political world in this country, it is one of the most interesting positions, if not the most interesting, but you cannot consider it for yourself. My aim was to stay as parliamentary secretary of the DP until the elections in 2023 and then see what possibilities might open up, but I had not considered this. It was a real surprise when Xavier Bettel called me to offer me this position.

JF: We have a relationship of trust and that is a very important basis for working together. The position of chief of staff requires knowledge of the institutions, a network in the political world, and my previous positions have prepared me very well for this role. Until now, my activities have meant a more direct involvement in politics and it goes without saying that as chief of staff, I will remain close to politics. But my role will be to follow government action and not to play politics myself. So, even though I am in the same party as the prime minister, I will not play partisan politics between ministries and I will not be the representative of the Democratic Party at the ministry of state.

JF: I had been working as a parliamentary attaché since 2014. After the 2018 parliamentary elections, the position became vacant following the departure of Françoise Schlink to the ministry of medium- and small-size business and tourism. I was chosen by the 12 DP members of parliament to take over the position as the party’s parliamentary secretary. They knew me in my mission as a parliamentary attaché; for almost five years, I was able to develop alongside them, and when they asked me to take on the position of parliamentary secretary, I accepted because it is a great opportunity to be able to exercise this role.

I am surrounded by an excellent team, with very young and highly motivated staff.
Jeff Feller

Jeff Feller

I am surrounded by an excellent team, with very young and highly motivated staff. It's a job that has given me a lot of satisfaction because its purpose is to advise MPs, to work with them, to help prepare them for the political dossiers. The parliamentary secretary is also a kind of political strategist, and I think that this job has prepared me very well for the work that awaits me at the ministry of state in September. I'm very happy that I've been able to do it for two years. The aim was to stay longer, but fate decided otherwise...

JF: I would say that covid-19 has marked everything in recent months. We had quite an ambitious government programme, and we were unfortunate not to be able to achieve as much as we would have liked because of the health crisis. So it was working in the middle of a pandemic that had the greatest impact on me. People don't see enough of the very important role that parliament has in managing this crisis. I think this is the 20th covid law, so for the parliamentary groups, it's been a hard and stressful job. Even if it is a very enriching experience, I hope that we will not have to go through it again.

JF: I have always been interested in politics, even at a very young age. When I was 18, I was a first-time voter and read the programmes of all the political parties. After the 2009 elections, in which I voted for the first time, I wanted to get actively involved, to help improve the lives of my fellow citizens, I had many ideas. Like many young people, I was certainly a bit of an ideologue, but I wanted to make things happen, which is why I got involved in politics, first in my commune. And then I ran for the parliamentary elections in 2013 and the European elections in 2014.

I am preparing myself, reading a lot of files, to be ready to take on this role in the autumn.
Jeff Feller

Jeff Feller

JF: No, not at all. In 2018, I made the decision not to run for elections and to focus on the operational role. To be a politician, be it an MP or minister, you need a wide set of skills. You have to be skilful on the topics, but also in terms of public relations, in talking with citizens. You are on the road a lot too. I thought that I could be more useful by advising politicians rather than doing politics myself. You should never say never, but at the moment I don't want to run for office. I would rather work in the shadows than in the light.

JF: That is an interesting question because I am passionate about the European project. My future position as head of cabinet will already provide plenty of satisfaction because the ministry of state plays a decisive role in Luxembourg's European policy. The prime minister is a key player on the European scene, so for the moment, it is already quite a big challenge. For the rest, it is not a question I am asking myself at the moment. I will concentrate on the tasks that await me at the ministry of state, and we will see what happens in the future.

JF: I don't feel stressed, it's a very interesting role that requires perhaps a little different preparation than other posts. I am preparing myself, reading a lot of files, to be ready to take on this role at the beginning of the new school year. We will prepare the rest together, with Paul Konsbruck, during the month of September. But for the time being, I am still the parliamentary secretary of the DP and there is enough work to do within the parliamentary group. The team is being reorganised. Together with my successor, Gene Kasel, I am preparing the files that will be presented to parliament in the coming months. But I'm happy and excited to start my mission at the ministry of state soon, I'm in a good frame of mind."