Which members of the chamber have been the most assiduous and active? Who are the most experienced and are they running again? Are the least experienced necessarily the youngest? Delano’s sister publication Paperjam has compiled an MP end-of-term report card* ahead of the elections next month.
The 34th parliamentary term will officially close on 24 October, some two weeks after the general elections on 8 October. The CSV currently holds the most seats in the chamber. The ADR had four seats but now has three after Roy Reding launched his own party (“movement” in his own terminology), Liberté-Fräiheet. The DP-LSAP-déi Gréng coalition, through its alliance, holds a majority.
Above is the current breakdown of the chamber, which is made up of 60 MPs. The vast majority of these are seeking a new mandate, while just three are not. The first is Jean-Marie Halsdorf (CSV), who in May announced that, having been elected mayor of Pétange, he didn’t wish to hold multiple offices, which explains his absence from the candidate lists revealed in August. The second is also from the CSV, Aly Kaes, who is retiring from politics. Finally, Nathalie Oberweis (déi Lénk) will not be returning either, explaining: “Life as an MP is quite incompatible with the responsibility and role of parent if you want to be there for your children.”
Oberweis adds: “I don’t see myself as a politician, but as an activist. I feel an urgency to act, but the role in parliament doesn’t satiate it because there are real blockages, particularly at the level of the dominant party, the DP. With two MPs in opposition, I realise that I can change little or nothing, so I might as well get back out there, work and get involved elsewhere to achieve greater social justice.”
As far as gender parity is concerned, the ratio stands at 38 men to 22 women in the current legislature. Ths figure could change, however, after the elections on 8 November, in which 42.8% of the candidates are women.
Legislators by age
The average age of MPs in the current legislature is 53. Most of our European neighbours have elected younger representatives in their corresponding chambers: the average is 50 in France, 46 in Belgium, 47 in Germany, 44 in the Netherlands and 46 in Denmark.
In the current chamber, the youngest MPs are women, often from the déi Gréng party. The youngest is Jessie Thill, 27, who is also the first alderwoman for Walferdange. She is also one of the latest arrivals to the chamber, taking office in January 2022 and replacing Carlo Back after his retirement.
On the senior side, Mars Di Bartolomeo (71, LSAP) takes first place. He first sat as an MP from 1989 to 2004, then again since 2013. Also, three of the five oldest MPs are from the DP.
The average age of the candidates for the upcoming elections is 46, lower than the current average.
The prize for longevity
The longest-standing representative is currently Michel Wolter (CSV), with 30 years of parliamentary activity. The mayor of Bascharage and economist by profession was first an MP from 1984 to 1995, and has been again since 2004.
Behind him by a hair are Lydia Mutsch (LSAP) and Laurent Mosar (CSV), both with 29 years’ experience. The socialist served from 1989 to 2013, and again from 2018 onwards. Mosar, meanwhile, has the longest uninterrupted record: since 1994.
Barbara Agostino (DP) has the shortest mandate of the legislature, having been elected in June 2023 to replace Max Hahn (DP), who was appointed to the government. Other recent arrivals include Elisabeth Margue (CSV) in October 2022 and--all of them starting in January 2022--Jessie Thill (déi Gréng), Dan Kersch (LSAP) and Max Hengel (CSV).
Parliamentary activity under the microscope
According to the chamber’s website, the number of parliamentary questions during this parliamentary term has doubled compared to the previous one. There are almost 8,200 questions for the 2018-2023 period, compared to some 4,100 questions between 2013-2018. This trend is also visible in the numbers of extended questions (195 compared to 32), oral questions (438 compared to 269) and urgent questions (775 compared to 156). Whether or not the questions have increased in quality, or have helped advance democracy, is of course not immediately clear.
Taking all question types together, the most inquisitive MPs were the Pirates: Sven Clement (Piraten) asked 841 questions and Marc Goergen (Piraten) 822. Next came Martine Hansen (CSV) with 673 questions and Jeff Engelen (626 questions). The DP representatives, on the other hand, were far less curious: Simone Beissel and Lydie Polfer, for example, did not pose a single question, while Frank Colabianchi (DP) and Pim Knaff (DP) asked fewer than ten.
In its file on MP attendance at public sittings, the chamber distinguishes between “simple absences” and “excused absences.”
Only two elected members recorded simple absences, i.e. missed the sitting without prior justification, during the legislative term: Roy Reding (Liberté-Fräiheet, ex-ADR) on four occasions and Lydie Polfer (DP) on two occasions.
Next come excused absences. Reding also tops this chart, tallying 95 excused absences over the legislative term, followed by Félix Eischen (CSV) with 49, Michel Wolter (CSV) with 44, Marc Hansen (déi Gréng) with 37 and Semiray Ahmedova (déi Gréng) with 33. Ahmedova explains that her absences were the result of giving birth during the term: “Female MPs are not entitled to maternity or parental leave. When you go into politics your private life shouldn’t be too demanding, but there are physiological reasons before and after childbirth that mean you’re simply not fit to return to work straight away,” the MP told Paperjam.
The loudest MPs
The chamber of deputies has recently made available a list of the speeches made by MPs during plenary sessions. The speeches cover a wide range of topics: communications, current affairs, policy debates, motions, interpellations, bills, etc. A file of around 13,000 lines, which we have analysed, shows which MPs give the most speeches.
Unsurprisingly, as the most curious MP, the most talkative is again the Pirate Party’s Sven Clement with 867 interventions in plenary sessions. Behind him, Fernand Kartheiser (ADR) spoke 705 times and Marc Goergen (Piraten) 561 times. They are followed by Martine Hansen (CSV) with 348 interventions and Myriam Cecchetti (déi Lenk) with 322. The president of the chamber, Fernand Etgen (DP), spoke almost 600 times.
Others were heard from much less frequently. Emile Eicher (CSV) made just six speeches. Barbara Agostino (DP) spoke eight times during the term (though she only took up her post in June). And Frank Colabianchi (DP) and Félix Eischen (CSV) spoke 12 and 16 times, respectively.
* Methodology: Work based on data published by the chamber of deputies on data.lu. For parliamentary questions, absences from sittings and interventions in sittings, the counts were calculated from 1 January 2019 to 16 August 2023. For longevity, we have counted in complete years and not in mandates. Honorary mandates are not counted. It should be noted that absences for missions abroad have not been counted either.
This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.