Claude Wiseler: the CSV leader can enjoy his party being in pole position, but he is slipping down the personality polls
Photo: Maison Moderne
Less than a year before election day, polls suggest the current coalition is on its way out. But 10 months is a long time in politics.
It’s the end of Gambia. That is what the headlines in the Luxemburger Wort proclaimed after the latest TNS-Ilres poll was unveiled this week. It is a sentiment that we have heard already from CSV head Claude Wiseler, who said earlier in December that “this government is over.”
The polls, taken at face value, do suggest that the DP-LSAP-Déi Gréng coalition is likely to be ousted after the parliamentary elections on 14 October next year. According to the polls conducted in each of the four electoral constituencies, the Gambia parties (so called because of the blue-red-green colours they represent) would only muster 26 seats in the 60-seat chamber of deputies. The CSV would fall short of an outright majority--only once, between 1921 and 1925, has a party governed alone in Luxembourg--but with 27 seats it would have the upper hand in negotiating a coalition agreement with the partner of its choice from the Gambia trio.
It is an impressive result and one that has Wiseler and the CSV-supporting Luxemburger Wort chomping at the bit. But step back and the message is not so clear. Indeed, December’s poll could be seen as a disappointment for the CSV as the same poll in May had the CSV slated to win 29 seats. So, even though it has made significant gains since the 2013 elections, when it won 23 seats, the conservative party is currently on a downward trend, losing one seat each to the DP and ADR compared to the poll conducted seven months ago.
The biggest losers in the polls, however, remain the business-friendly Democratic Party and the LSAP socialist party. The latest polls suggest both will win just 10 seats, losing 3 of their current deputies. Fresh from losing control of the Esch-sur-Alzette council, the LSAP continues to suffer poor form in the south of the country, where it will lose two of those seats. The DP will spread its losses around the country, one in the south, one in its traditional stronghold in the centre and one in the east. The Greens, the third coalition partner, have been polling consistently at the 6 seats it currently holds in parliament.
But the latest poll was conducted before the end of November, and the government has since introduced a number of potentially vote-winning measures--such as increased leave for new fathers--and has enjoyed good fortune such as the news that Google has purchased land for its potential date centre.
And let’s not forget that, even in Luxembourg, personality plays an important role in informing people’s decisions on election day. Claude Wiseler has performed poorly in the last two polls that have asked voters about which politician they like most and think is most competent. His approval rating has fallen 5% since May and he now ranks seventh, at just a 57%. That is 12 points behind prime minister Xavier Bettel and level with the LSAP’s Étienne Schneider. Indeed, despite the party performing poorly overall, 5 of the most popular 10 politicians are from the LSAP. The party’s problem, as evidenced in its disastrous showing at the local elections, is that it has no fresh blood coming through. Two real veterans, foreign minister Jean Asselborn and the president of parliament Mars di Bartolomeo, head the list of the most popular politicians in the country.
The poll also suggests Luxembourgers are feeling positive about the economy, with just 9% saying they thought it was in a fairly bad or really bad state. It will be interesting to see how optimistic Luxembourgers are feeling at the turn of the year when global happiness and consumer confidence surveys are unveiled. But 2017 has been a positive year for the grand duchy, one in which it shed some of its negative image and enjoyed making international headlines for the right reasons. If that rubs off on the electorate, then everything may still be up for grabs come the 14th of October.