Xavier Bettel, Democratic Party (DP)
As a young DP politician Xavier Bettel made sure he appeared at as many public events as possible and showed an affability that continues to this day. First elected to parliament, and also onto Luxembourg City council, at the age of 26 in 1999, Bettel’s stock continued to rise, and by 2011 he was mayor of the city. Two years later he was prime minister after long-term PM Jean-Claude Juncker was forced to call an early election. Bettel has overseen plenty of comings and goings in his cabinets since then, but he has remained the cornerstone of successive coalitions with the LSAP and déi Gréng. In that first term, his government survived the LuxLeaks scandal and a damning defeat in the 2015 referendum. In the second, Bettel showed leadership values during the covid pandemic and the fallout from the Ukraine conflict. It would be foolish to rule him out of winning a third term.
Paulette Lenert, Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP)
Like many cabinet ministers, Paulette Lenert is a law graduate. But unlike the other three leading candidates, she has never fought an election campaign. She held several high-level posts in public administrations before being appointed minister for development cooperation and humanitarian after the 2018 election. A cabinet reshuffle in February 2020 saw her take over the health portfolio, just a couple of weeks before the covid pandemic. Her calm handling of the health crisis won her many plaudits but took its toll when she had a blackout in March 2021. However, until this July (when fellow LSAP minister Jean Asselborn overtook her) she consistently topped the political personality opinion polls. Whether that popularity will be transformed into votes come election day remains to be seen.
Luc Frieden, Christian Social People’s Party (CSV)
A cabinet minister in CSV-led governments between 1998 and 2013, Luc Frieden was seen as the natural successor to Jean-Claude Juncker as prime minister one day. The 2013 snap election defeat put paid to that. Rather than serve as an MP on the opposition benches, Frieden entered the private sector with spells as vice chairman of Deutsche Bank in London, chairman of the board of directors at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg and media house Saint-Paul and, until he announced his candidature at the upcoming election, president of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. If a week is a long time in politics, ten years is an age. To achieve his ambition of being prime minister, Frieden will have to convince voters that both he and the CSV, once seen as the natural party of power, are still relevant.
Sam Tanson, Green Party (Déi Gréng)
The youngest of the leading candidates from the four big parties, Sam Tanson nevertheless has plenty of experience. A former president of Déi Gréng (and before that a spokesperson for its youth wing), Tanson was elected on to Luxembourg City council at the 2011 local elections and then succeeded fellow Green François Bausch as first alderman in 2013 when he was appointed to national government. Until Déi Gréng lost the local elections in 2017, she was in charge of finances and mobility for the city. Initially given the culture and housing portfolios after the 2018 parliamentary elections, Tanson took over the justice ministry--and handed over housing to Henri Kox--in 2019’s cabinet reshuffle following the departure of Félix Braz (who had suffered a heart attack that summer).
Sven Clement, Pirate Party Luxembourg (Piratepartei Lëtzebuerg)
The rise in popularity of Sven Clement since he was first elected to parliament in 2018 has been spectacular if not unexpected. His call for more transparency from government and for more data protection for individuals has won him plaudits. He was fifth in the most recent opinion poll of political personalities, placing above many ministers and party leaders. With the Pirate Party predicted to add to its two seats, there may yet be an opportunity for Clement to play kingmaker in any coalition negotiations.
David Wagner, Déi Lénk
The most charismatic and well-known face of the far-left party, which he co-founded in 1999 after quitting the LSAP, David Wagner has been an MP since 2015 when he took the place of party colleague Justin Turpel. Elected again in 2018, he ceded his seat to Nathalie Oberweis in 2021 as part of a party rotation deal. A former journalist, he was also elected to the council of Luxembourg City in the 2011. He has called for more equality and policies that against the “rich minority who profit from the working majority.”
Fred Keup, Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR)
Fred Keup became prominent as one of the leaders of “Nee2015”, the “no” campaign in the 2015 referendum on whether non-nationals should be allowed to vote in Luxembourg’s parliamentary elections. He joined the ADR and became an MP when Gast Gibéryen resigned his seat in parliament in 2020. Keup has been outspoken in claiming the Luxembourg language is endangered and he wants to limit population growth. The ADR could make gains at the election, but other parties have ruled out making a deal with them.