Paulette Lenert to become deputy prime minister

Health minister Paulette Lenert is due to replace Dan Kersch as deputy prime minister. Photo: SIP / Julien Warnand

Health minister Paulette Lenert is due to replace Dan Kersch as deputy prime minister. Photo: SIP / Julien Warnand

Health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP)--recently voted Luxembourg’s most popular politician in a survey--is set to become deputy prime minister next year as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

The social democrat LSAP party on Tuesday confirmed that deputy PM, labour and sport minister Dan Kersch, and agriculture and social security minister Romain Schneider would step down at the start of January.

RTL on Monday had first reported their imminent departure. Kersch joined the government under prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) after the 2013 elections, initially as home affairs minister and minister for civil service and administrative reform. He became deputy PM after economy minister Etienne Schneider (LSAP) stepped down in February last year.

Both Kersch and Schneider during Tuesday’s press conference cited personal reasons and the toll that their years in office had taken on their lives and health.

“It wasn’t an easy time,” Schneider said, who replaced Lenert during her sick leave in March and April this year.

“This government in a difficult situation achieved exceptional things,” Kersch said. “I hope that the pandemic won’t lead to fewer and fewer people taking part in politics,” Kersch said, also issuing a call to end hate speech against politicians.

Schneider joined the government in 2009. He was one of only two ministers who remained in office after the end of the CSV-LSAP coalition in 2013, together with foreign minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP). 

Georges Engel, who leads the LSAP’s group in parliament, and Claude Haagen, a member of parliament and mayor of Diekirch, will replace Kersch and Schneider, respectively.

Kersch will return to parliament, switching places with Engel. He didn’t rule out running in the 2023 elections, his health permitting. Following the election win of the socialist in Germany (the SPD), Kersch spoke of a “historic opportunity” to make the LSAP the strongest party in the country.

Schneider on the other hand will leave politics altogether and Carlo Weber will move up into parliament to take Haagen’s seat as he transitions into the government.

A party meeting on 7 December is set to confirm the appointments.

The LSAP’s cabinet reshuffle comes as finance minister Pierre Gramenga (DP) on Tuesday also announced his resignation. The DP in a statement said Gramegna was resigning for personal reasons. The politician at the time of publication had not yet commented on the news.

The party said it would look for a replacement as soon as possible.

Yves Cruchten--the LSAP’s party president--on Wednesday would not speculate over Gramegna’s decision to leave the government. Cruchten worked closely with the finance minister as the budget rapporteur in parliament last year and thanked the minister for his pragmatism and mutual respect.