Young socialist Tess Burton, her party’s second most popular candidate in the east, was at one stage touted as a cabinet minister, but the LSAP leadership chose the older and unelected Paulette Lenert instead. Photo credit: LSAP
All is not well in the LSAP as the youth wing of the party threatens to vote against the coalition agreement.
Following its worst election result for years, the socialist LSAP party is facing internal strife. On Monday reports suggested that Tess Burton, a candidate in the eastern constituency who had been touted as a possible cabinet member in the new coalition government, had been pressured not to pursue any ministerial ambition.
Burton, who is vice president of the JS (young socialists) in the east, placed second on the party list in her constituency. So, it seemed a given that when Nicolas Schmit announced he wanted the job of EU commissioner rather than to continue to serve in cabinet, Burton’s name was in the frame to be appointed as a minister. But the socialist party leadership seemed to have other ideas, and pushed Paulette Lenert to the fore even though she had not even stood for election.
That angered the JS in the east. Its president Ben Streff told RTL that choosing Lennert over a young candidate like Burton was hardly in keeping with the party leadership’s pledge to “renew” the LSAP. Worse was to come. Sources told the Luxemburger Wort that interior minister Dan Kersch, who is likely to switch to the employment ministry, called Burton on the phone to try and “demotivate” her pursuit of a cabinet post. Burton did not comment on the phone call, but told RTL later that she was not making herself available for a government post.
Now the national office of the young socialists has published a letter in which they say they will not vote in favour of the coalition agreement when the party meets for its extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday evening. The letter argues that the party has not made any effort to rethink its strategy by giving up any ambition to land the housing, education or culture portfolios for LSAP ministers. The young socialists would also like to have seen LSAP ministers responsible for energy and the circular economy.
Equally importantly, for the young socialists, is the fact that the LSAP, under the initiative of Étienne Schneider, in 2015 had pushed for a referendum on legislation limiting the term of government ministers to 10 years. That the party’s own ministers were no happy to serve longer than 10 years, and that MPs were still holding office at local political level, was only losing the party credibility among voters, the JS says. “That is why on Tuesday we are voting ‘no’, not in opposition but in the interest of our mother party” the letter concludes.